This past Monday was Three Kings Day (the arrival of the Magi with gifts to give Christ the King)-also known as the Feast of the Epiphany- a time where many celebrate an ending of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Our friends and staff party celebrated with a meal fit for a King. Traditionally speaking-Epiphany in France, the French people make one of two kinds of “king cakes”- “in the northern half of France and Belgium the cake is called a galette des Rois, and is a round, flat, and golden cake made with flake pastry and filled with frangipane, fruit, or chocolate. In the south, in Provence, and in the south-west, a crown-shaped cake or brioche filled with fruit called a gâteau des Rois is eaten. Both types of cake contain a charm, usually a porcelain figurine, called a fève (bean in French). The cake is cut by the youngest (and therefore most innocent) person at the table to assure that the recipient of the bean is random. The person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket becomes “king” or “queen” and wears a paper crown provided with the cake.” credit to Wikipedia.
Our menu for the evening was simple yet refined. There was a rustic feel to the whole evening. We met at a coffee house and the ambiance (low lighting, light jazz,) felt majestic and humble at the same time. Take a peak at our menu and the recipe highlight below for this post.
Rustic French Epiphany Menu
Bâtonnets au Fromage~Cheese Puffs
Fromageetolivesassorties~Cheese and Assorted Olives
Fromage de chèvre tarte~Goat Cheese Tart
Salade verteaux poiresetvinaigrette~Green Salad with Pears and Vinaigrette
Poulet au citron avec des croûtons~Lemon Chicken with Croutons
Riz basmati~Basmati Rice
Asperges avec poivrons rôtis~Asparagus with Roasted Peppers
Choix de desserts~Assorted Desserts
Café décaféiné, décaféiné de thé et de l’eau~Decaf Coffee, Decaf Tea and Water
For French Language enthusiasts, this may not translate to your understanding, so forgive my limited French. You may not know and I will divulge with a bit of sorrow, I did study 7 years of French and fell in love with it. I wish I could have used it more, and perhaps it is still not too late to continue on with the task of learning it better. Qui?
The recipe feature I will focus on for this post will be the Lemon Chicken with Croutons, from my Barefoot in Paris cookbook by Ina Garten. Truly a remarkable French cookbook for the average cook. Lots of wonderful recipes. The lemon chicken takes very little time to prepare but wins very juicy and tasty points-all 10 fingers to lick if you want. When you make this French country dish, taste the essence of France.
1 (4-5 pound) roasting chicken- (I used 2 smaller chickens)
1 large yellow onion, sliced
Good Olive oil
Freshly Ground black pepper
2 lemons, quartered
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 cups (3/4 inch) bread cubes (1 baguette or round boule)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Take the giblets out of the chicken and wash it inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers. Toss the onion with a little olive oil and place in a small roasting pan. Place the chicken on top and sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. Place the lemons inside the chicken cavity. Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels, brush it with the melted butter, and sprinkle with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.
Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh. Cover with foil and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. The onions may be burned (mine were not) but the flavor is good.
Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very hot. Lower the heat to medium low and sauté the bread cubes, tossing frequently until nicely browned, 8-10 minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the croutons on a serving platter. Slice the chicken and place it, plus all the pan juices, over the croutons. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.
Disclaimer: I wrote this the day after our Monday night event, but got a touch of the flu and had to postpone this until I felt an ease in my body. Better late…