Image source: flickr/visit_gent
“Every time I invited my parents for a meal, they asked the question “Will it be la poule au pot à la Gantoise?”
Six egg yolks and heavy cream sound like the beginning of a quintessentially French recipe, but in the instance of Gentse Waterzooi of Chicken, the origins are distinctly Flemish; from the Belgian town of Ghent, to be more specific.
The chicken dish, simmered in vermouth and julienned carrots, celery, onions and leeks, is one that the modern cook might be keen to master and add to their repertoire of comfort food. We say “master” because creating a creamy pot of Waterzooi of Chicken is not as simple as throwing the ingredients into a pot and watching the whole thing “zooien” (meaning “to boil” in Dutch). No, to do that would be more American than Dutch.
Knowing when to add the yolk mixture to the chicken stock and how to manage the heat to prevent your Waterzooi from turning into a lumpy mess of curdled egg is where a cook’s attention is needed.
A Belgian dish in Berrima
“My mother used to prepare this delicious dish often, and I loved it,” says NOSH Host Christiane de Bièvre, who is hosting a Scented Edibles pop-up with a Belgian themed menu in July.
“In my first year of marriage, I always invited my parents for lunch or dinner and served them Gentse Waterzooi of Chicken because I knew, after having watched my mother cooking it in our home kitchen, that I would not fail at making it.”
“Every time I invited my parents for a meal, they asked the question “Will it be la poule au pot à
la Gantoise? And with a certain shyness, I would reply, “Yes.”
Julia Child proclaimed Waterzooi of Chicken one of the most interesting recipes she had ever clipped “because it is simple to do, delicious to eat – and so adaptable.” Adaptable indeed. For those of you who might be giving this recipe a second thought due to the combination of egg yolks, heavy cream, vermouth and in some versions, butter, Child gives the option in her version to skip the yolks and heavy cream. Chicken is also optional and can be replaced with fish.
If you’re planning to eat at Christiane’s, she will be preparing Gentse Waterzooi of Chicken the traditional way so her guests can experience a taste of a place. It will be Belgium in the Southern Highlands with an added touch of botanical essences on 29 July 2017. There are limited seats at this table, so please reserve your plate here.