Étouffée de Poulet


Photo by Richard Swearinger


This recipe is a collaboration between Chef David Baruthio and myself. It’s one of the 22 great recipes that is now available in The Braiser Cookbook: 22 irresistible recipes created just for your braiser-great for Le Creuset, Lodge, All-Clad, Staub, Tromantina, and all other braiser pans.In it, you’ll find many more recipes that have been specifically developed for the braiser. 

Chicken Cooked on a Nest of Thyme // Étouffée de Poulet sur un Nid du Thyme
Serves 4. 



1        organic whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds)
1        huge bouquet of thyme (about 6 ounces or so)*
1        head garlic
2        lemons, washed and cut into fourths
1/4    cup olive oil
1.  Cut the top off 1/2 inch off of the the garlic head to expose the cloves. Separate about 5 cloves from the head; keep the remaining head intact. Preheat the oven to 400°F.


2. Place the five separated cloves, 3 sprigs of the thyme, and 2 of the lemon pieces inside the chicken. Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with salt to taste—preferably fleur de sel. (No pepper needed, says Le Chef. Plenty of other flavor here.)

3. (Below): Heat the olive oil in a braiser or deep oven-going skillet with ovenproof lid over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the chicken and cook, turning as needed, until the chicken is light golden on all sides. You don’t want it to brown. (Marquer en cuisson, in the chef’s words: “marked with cooking”—colored by cooking, but not so much that it’s brown).


Okay, maybe slightly golden brown, but absolutely no more than this:


4. Drain all but a sheen of fat from the skillet. Reserve the drained fat. Separate just a few more garlic cloves from the garlic bulb and add those, along with the remaining bulb, to the skillet. Also add the “cap”–that thin slice that you cut off the top in Step 1. Let them brown a bit in the sheen of fat. Add a little of the reserved fat, if needed, if the pan is too dry. (“But,” says the chef, “You do not want to deep fry it!” So don’t add too much oil.)


Turn as needed:


3. (Below): Remove the garlic from the skillet. Drain off all the fat (reserve). Add the remaining thyme sprigs to the skillet. Scatter evenly.


5. Place the chicken on top of this “nest” of thyme. Arrange the garlic cloves, cap, and remaining bulb around the chicken. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon pieces over the chicken. Arrange the squeezed lemon halves around the chicken. Pour the cooking fat back over the chicken. Salt the chicken to taste. Cover the pot and place it in a preheated 400°F oven.

Here’s a video of that step. David is speaking French, but you totally get the idea:

6. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. (Actual cooking time varies with the size of your chicken and how meaty it is—use an instant-read thermometer to check. Thighs should be 180°F; breast 170°F.)

We served this with new potatoes and bacon and our root-vegetable braise.

7. Allow chicken to stand for 10 minutes before carving into pieces to serve. Discard the lemon and thyme, but serve a few garlic cloves on each person’s plate. Soft and warm and spreadable, it makes a wonderful condiment

I loved this preparation for chicken. It called for just five ingredients (plus salt), but resulted in a luscious, moist bird that had subtle but insistent aromas of the lemon, garlic, and thyme.

P.S.: Looking for more great recipes for your braiser? Check out my e-book, The Braiser Cookbook($2.99). And remember, you don’t have to own a Kindle to read e-books. You can download a free Kindle reading app here: Amazon.com – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

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11 comments to Étouffée de Poulet—Perfect for the French Braiser

  • Greg

    where /how do I get my hands on that pan you made the chicken in? I don’t own any pans that can go directly into the oven from stove like that – nice! Expensive? Wisj I could get down to the restaurant in October to eat your food!

  • Wini

    Yes, those Le Creuset braisers are expensive, but you’ll use them the rest of your cooking life. I own two. And you’re right: the advantage of this enameled cast-iron bakeware is that indeed, it does go from stove to oven–no problem.

    If you cook a lot, it’s worth investing in one. Williams-Sonoma has them. I must say that I use the 3 1/2-quart one more than the 5-quart one, but that’s because I rarely cook for more than four.

    If you don’t have a Le Creuset braiser, use a heavy skillet with a lid–you should be able to find oven-going skillets with oven-going lids for cheaper than Le Creuset cookware.

    I think you should ask Santa for a braiser this year….I did, about 5 years ago, and I got mine!

  • Greg

    Is the one for this chicken a 3.5 quart one? I just had some of my chickens butchered by the amish and they are about that size.

  • Wini

    Actually, the braiser pictured is the 5-quart one. However, you can definitely use a 3 1/2-quart one for a chicken of that size. You’ll notice in the picture that the braiser had ample room for the chicken. A 3 1/2-quart one would probably work just fine.

  • I imagine the entire kitchen smells amazing too!

  • Rene

    I made this recipe in my dutch oven because my chicken was too big to put in my braiser. Would it have come out different in my braiser?

    • Wini

      The Dutch oven is deeper than the braiser; that means that in a Dutch oven, the moist heat has more room to circulate, so you don’t get the condensed moist effect of a braiser. I’m wondering how the chicken turned out?

  • Jochen

    Hi Wini,
    what a great recipe you’re posting here. I can’t wait to try. But first, I also want to buy an Le creuset. But I am not sure about the size (2 mostly two persons) and it it should be a bruiser or a dutch oven…

    What’s your experience? Do you have any suggestions (it would be the only le creuset my wife would allow me…)

    Best regards

    • Wini

      Sorry for the late response! I’ve been out and about. I mostly cook for two myself, so I’d definitely go for the Le Creuset 3 1/2-quart brainer. It’s the perfect size for a four-serving recipe. Braised dishes keep well in the fridge for 2 or 3 days, and most freeze extremely. well. Truly–you can’t go wrong with the 3 1/2-quart size. It’s a beauty!

      Thanks for your patience.

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