We have had ham hocks and pig’s feet before. So we would not mind if we prepared pied de cochon as St. Ménehould’s feast day food. But because some ingredients are not readily available at our grocery store, we prepared poulet (chicken) instead. The dish could also be made with eel, salmon, lamb or turkey but trotters are traditional. Pied de cochon is the local specialty in the northeastern French town that bears the saint’s name, Ste-Ménehould. Whatever meat is chosen for their patroness, the preparation for this saint’s day dish is similar: braising then broiling. This is a flavorful feast day food so try it and make it in memory of St. Ménehould.
(Adapted from Cooking With the Saints by Ernst Scheugraf)
- 3 pounds chicken (we used thighs), boneless or bone-in
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
- 1-2 tablespoons onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chives, chopped
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon basil
- 1 clove
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 egg yolks, beaten
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 1-2 tablespoons cream
In a baking pan with lid, pour the wine. Add the butter, onion, garlic, chives, thyme, basil, clove, salt, pepper and bay leaf and mix well. Place the chicken on top. Cover with the lid and simmer in a preheated oven at 300 degrees F for 45-minutes to an hour until the chicken is cooked through. Baste the chicken with the liquid every 15 minutes. When the chicken is done, remove from the oven and reserve the liquid.
Transfer the chicken to a plate and brush beaten egg yolks all over it. Dredge the chicken in bread crumbs. Place in a baking pan over the melted butter. Broil it until the chicken is browned (or bake the chicken on the top rack at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes), being careful not to burn the bread crumb coating.
While the chicken is broiling/baking, transfer the reserved liquid to a saucepan. Simmer to thicken it slightly. Stir in the cream and mix well. Strain the gravy into a serving boat. Plate the chicken and serve the gravy along side of it. Garnish with fresh parsely leaves, if desired.
- Not much is known about St. Ménehould except that she was a fifth century nun who, along with her sisters (also saints), are venerated in the Champagne region of France. They were the daughters of Count Sigmar of Perthois. Although they grew up wealthy, they dedicated themselves to serve and live among the poor and sick near the Marne river.
- We halved the original recipe above to feed just the two of us at home. Serve with slices of French bread or baguette, potatoes and a side of salad, if desired.