Chicken Clemenceau, named after Georges Clémenceau, the World War I French President, is one of the backbone dishes of New Orleans restaurant cuisine, probably because it’s a composite, easy to assemble entree and who doesn’t like fried potatoes?
As a kid I used to order the shrimp version at Galatoires mostly because I loved shrimp and partly because I liked rolling the peas around my plate and surreptitiously flipping them at various angles towards unsuspecting diners. My mother tried to encourage eating as opposed to flipping by reminding me of starving children who would kill for peas. Unfortunately my sympathy for invisible starving people was poorly developed at that point so I kept up the flipping until my father proposed the scenario whereby I was an evil giant and the peas were rebellious peasants whom I must spear and devour.
It was a winning strategy! I really cottoned to the idea of being the all powerful pea(sant) killer and have loved peas ever since – enough, at least, to use them in recipes like this.
One thing that struck me when I first started making Chicken Clemenceau at home was the tendency of some recipe writers to call for large amounts of frying oil, in one case an actual gallon. This is fine if you have a dedicated biofuel pump in your kitchen but for most people it’s just way way too much. If you cut the potatoes up into small chunks you can pan fry the lot in an inch or so of oil. With the price of oil being what it is deep frying has become an indulgence of the rich. So the thing to remember about frying veg in oil is, cut small, fry shallow. You’ll save enough over time to buy some caviar.
So to sum up this recipe I’d say it’s more about organization than actual culinary skill. After you put the chicken in the oven it’s just a matter of getting the other ingredients prepped, sauteed and assembled.
- 1 small chicken, about 3 lbs., cut up (or equal weight in cut up parts)
- Salt, poultry seasoning, and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 lb. potatoes (red or Yukon Gold), diced & soaked in water for 30 minutes
- Vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup clarified butter
- 1 lb. medium mushrooms, sliced in quarters (white or Cremini)
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen, not canned)
- Minced curly parsley for garnish
- Dry chicken well. Season & bake skin side up in a 350 oven until done (about 30 minutes).
- While the chicken is cooking, drain potatoes & fry in about an inch of the oil.
- Remove and drain on paper towels.
- Melt the butter over a low flame & add the garlic and mushrooms. Saute until light brown.
- Add peas & cook for a few minutes.
- Spoon the vegetables onto a platter, arrange the chicken on top, and garnish with parsley.
For this recipe it's fine to just use regular butter as long as you remember to saute the garlic & mushrooms on a low enough heat to keep the butter from burning.
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