I remember the first dish I made that really made me feel like a chef. It was right after I made the decision to major in Culinary Arts, much to the dismay of my English Professor who felt I had a real talent for writing and encouraged me to stay with Journalism. She was setting up an internship for women writers and wanted me to Intern for this up and coming women’s mag that was targeting the 30 something demographic. Since I was that demographic she felt my writing could add to the climate of the magazine and help resuscitate it. While I was flattered, I already had made up my mind and being pregnant with my second child and switching majors and now taking on more classes I was already over extended to say the least. And yes, pun intended, my belly was huge!
SO this dish I was speaking of was Chicken Boullibasse. I had seen Julia Childs make this dish on television and I was enthralled. I remember watching this with my Mom and being so amazed at how simple but elegant this was. It was a flavor infused masterpiece, and I was so intimidated because back then I didn’t think I could master this hearty Povençal dish. When I saw Julia top this with her rouille, I was done.
Fast forward to years later, and I wanted to make this dish for my family and really prove to myself that I was a Chef. So with some tweaking to make this something my kiddos would eat, I settled on this take on Julia’s classic dish. I take her key ingredients and keep them almost untouched, but instead of the rouille, which is just a Provençal sauce that is usually placed on top of the boulliabsse, which contains saffron, cayenne pepper, bread crumbs, some have pureed potatoes, and saffron, I just use a garlic aioli atop of crostini. Same concept but more kid friendly, and actually my favorite part of this dish, dunking the garlic laden aioli bread in the rich, flavorful broth. That my friends is as good as bread can get!
Give this dish a try, It is the perfect thing on a cold night, in just over an hour, you can have a flavorful Provençal meal that is sheer perfection.
Chicken Boullibasse with Garlic Aioli Crostini
A simplified version of a French Provençal classic, that's, easy, flavorful, and oh so satisfying!
- You can use Pernod which is a licorice type of French appetif, and what the French use, but I prefer to use fennel since I have it on hand all the time, I am Italian after all, and it has the same anise taste that the Pernod has. Feel free to use either.
- Half a roaster chicken cut into large pieces then halved, or individual chicken pieces, a mix of dark and white or even all dark. I like the mix of the two.
- 2 onions thinly peeled and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves finely minced
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 can of whole tomatoes, crushed with hands including juice
- 1 32 oz. container of chicken broth
- zest of one lemon
- 1 large pinch of saffron
- 1 tbsp. of dried fennel seed
- 2 tsp. of Herbs de Provence
- 1 Tbsp. of chopped tarragon
- Splash of dry white wine
- Kosher salt and Cracked black pepper to taste
For the Garlic Aioli and Crostini
- 1 loaf of a French Baguette
- 4 cloves of garlic (2 left whole with just top cut, and 2 finely minced)
- 1 cup of mayonnaise
- juice of half a lemon, including zest
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- Slice baguette on the bias and place slices on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until lightly browned in 400° oven about 10 minutes or so.
- Immediately take cut clove of garlic and rub the top side of the crositini. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine mayonnaise, minced garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper. whisk to incorporate. Top several pieces of crostini with the aioli. Top the bouillabaisse with crositini and enjoy!
- In a large Dutch oven heat about a tablespoon of EVOO over medium high heat. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add chicken to Dutch oven skin side down, browning well on both sides. Remove and set on plate, keeping warm. Chicken will cook through in broth.
- In same Dutch oven add a bit more EVOO and add in sliced onions and minced garlic. Saute until soft and onions are translucent.
- Add chicken back in, add in herbs, tomatoes, chicken broth, wine, lemon zest, and saffron. Lower heat to a high simmer, and cover. Cook for about thirty minutes. Stirring periodically.
- Serve ladled in bowls topped with crostini and garlic aioli. Devour! Bon Appetit!