Elizabeth David – Chicken Savoyarde

A while back I did a series of recipes using one chicken to make three meals. Making the most out of a joint of meat is something that is important to me and so I thought it was time to do a few more recipes on what you can do with one chicken, only there will be four meals in this series of recipes. This is the meal number one.

This is one of my all time favourite chicken recipes.

Poulet Au Gratin A La Savoyarde – Chicken With Cheese Sauce from Elizabeth David’s ‘French Provincial Cooking‘. Possibly one of the greatest cookbooks you could own. This cookbook alone could last you a lifetime and every single recipe I have tried (which is a fair few) is just stunning, you can’t go wrong. I adore tarragon chicken but this recipe is like tarragon chicken times one hundred. Full of tarragon and cream and boosted to the next level with a little cheese and French mustard. It is incredibly rich so I rarely have it, but the once a year that I do I am in heaven.  The best part is that it is extremely easy.



If you don’t already know this recipe then please give it a go. I assure you it will become part of your repertoire.

This is the recipe as written in the book:

Put a small but plump 2 1/2 pound chicken, drawn and dressed weight, to roast in butter in the oven. While it is cooking, prepare a sauce from the following ingredients: 1 1/2 oz butter, 2 level tablespoons flour, 1/4 pint of chicken stock (made from the giblets of the bird and flavoured with herbs, onions, carrots and 4 tablespoons of white wine), 1/2 pint of thick fresh cream, 2 teaspoons of French mustard, a teaspoon of fresh or dried tarragon, 2 tablespoons of grated Gruyere cheese, salt and freshly-milled pepper.

Heat the butter in a thick pan, stir in the flour; when it is smooth add the hot strained stock; when this has amalgamated with the flour start adding the cream, a little at a time; when it has all been stirred in let it cook very gently for 5 mins; now add seasonings, including plenty of pepper, the tarragon, the mustard and the cheese. Put the saucepan on a mat and leave on a very low flame, stirring from time to time, for 10 mins, for the sauce to mature.

When the chicken is cooked, carve it into 4 pieces, put these in a gratin dish on top of a layer of the sauce, pour the rest on top, strew over a few fine breadcrumbs, add a little of the butter from the chicken and put on the top shelf of the hottest possible oven for 5 mins. Finish under the grill for a minute or 2 and serve when the surface is golden and bubbling. Enough for two or four, according to what else is to be served.

There are a few deviations that I make away from this recipe so I will give you mine below. Mainly that I slow cook the chicken as in my recipe here and pull it, this makes the chicken go much further. I don’t know what it is about being served an entire breast or leg versus pulled meat, but for some reason shredded meat seems to last whereas I could easily eat an entire breast to myself. Secondly, as long as the chicken stock is fresh then it doesn’t matter how you choose to season it and I never use giblets as you don’t really get them when you buy a chicken these days. The third biggest change I make is adding more than a few breadcrumbs…you need to add a good amount! This also gives you a nice crunchy topping when finished under the grill.


1 large chicken – locally sourced if you can and save 300g of meat once cooked and shredded to use for the next couple of recipes I will be posting, if this is the only recipe you are making then use all the meat.
50g butter – I use salted and again locally sourced, you’ll tell the flavour difference.
2 tbsp plain flour
150 ml fresh chicken stock – I make it this way
300 ml double cream
2 tsp French mustard
1 tsp tarragon – preferably fresh
2 tbsp grated Cheddar or Gruyere
Salt and pepper

To Make:

Cook your chicken as in this recipe. When done, shred the chicken and put in a gratin dish.

Make the sauce as described by Elizabeth David above.

Pour this sauce over the chicken and top with a good amount of breadcrumbs. Enough to create a decent coating. Finish as described in the recipe above.

This recipe requires time but otherwise, as with all the recipes I enjoy making, is very easy. Easy and extremely tasty and soon to be one of your favourites!



A little of this dish goes a long way as it is quite rich so it is perfect if you have company!


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