“Good woman’s chicken” and its variations (chicken Clemenceau and chicken Pontalba) are among the best dishes in the Creole cookbook. Although there is little agreement on how chicken bonne femme is prepared, potatoes and garlic are always part of the recipe. This one evolved in my kitchen from the very good version prepared at Antoine’s, with inspiration from the super-garlicky, great bonne femme at Tujague’s.
Yield : Serves 4
4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch squares
Two 3½-lb. whole chickens, quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. flour
½ cup ham, cut into tiny dice
1 cup chopped green onion tops
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. Tabasco
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 lb. white potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
1 stick (8 Tbsp.) butter
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon and reserve, leaving the fat in the skillet. Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper, then dust lightly with the flour. Cook the chicken in the rendered bacon fat over high heat until browned on all sides. Remove the chicken pieces to an ovenproof platter and keep warm.
2. Add the ham, green onion, and yellow onion to the skillet in which you cooked the chicken and sauté until the onions turn translucent. Add the mushrooms, wine, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco, and bring to a boil. After a minute, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.
3. Pour the oil into a deep skillet to a depth of 1 inch and heat to 375 degrees. Add the potatoes and fry until very lightly browned. Drain them well and add to the skillet with the ham and onions. This is bonne femme garnish.
4. Continue simmering the garnish until all of the liquid is absorbed; lightly stir to distribute the ingredients. Remove from heat.
5. Heat the butter in a small saucepan until it starts bubbling. Lower the heat, skim the foam off, and add the garlic. Cook the garlic in the hot butter for about a minute.
6. Spoon the bonne femme garnish over and between the chicken pieces. Spoon the garlic butter over the garnish and season to taste with salt and pepper. Crumble the reserved bacon over the top.
7. Bake for 7-12 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces, redistribute the garnish, and bake for another 5-7 minutes. If the white meat is cooked, remove it from the pan and keep warm. Continue cooking the leg quarters until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced. Return the breasts to the mixture and serve with lots of the garnish.