Bresse chicken: bringing it from farm to table
A road trip from Paris to Switzerland via the Bresse region? Mais oui, bien sûr!
When my friend Carole proposed to take a road trip from her home in Paris to her sister in Montreux, Switzerland, with a few stops along the way, it didn’t take much convincing to decide on a taking break in the Bresse region. My boyfriend Titus knew about the Bresse chicken, the Rolls-Royce among chicken, from his work in a high-end butcher shop in Amsterdam; we quickly decided to go to a Bresse poultry farm and drive our purchases over to Switzerland to prepare at sister Sandra’s place, who is married to a chef, Cédric. Coincidence? I think not.
The high-end poulet de Bresse is considered to be a top breed of chicken. It has an appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), a type of certification which means there are strict government guidelines for its origin and quality of life regarding living space, food and use of antibiotics.
After a few nights in Paris we hopped in the car in high spirits. We booked a bed and breakfast in Marlieux, which is close to both Bourg-en-Bresse and Lyon and about a four hour drive from Paris. On the night of our arrival we had dinner at restaurant L’Okavango in Châtillon. French dinner as it should be; with high quality food and wine in a laid-back atmosphere. The next day was reserved for a visit to foodie paradise Lyon. I pride myself on my talent for planning, but I had not thought about it being vacation time (July) and it being a Monday the day we went there. Sadly, many traditional bouchons (eateries) were closed. We ate a nice salad on a terrace though, and then climbed the hill up to the Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica. No mean feat in the heat! After that, we deserved a dip in the pool at the B&B to re-energize for dinner in Bourg-en-Bresse. We found a lot of closed restaurants there too, but did manage to see the stunning church that is part of the Brou monastery.
While planning the trip, I had looked up poultry farm Domaine de la Perouse online and we booked the B&B close to there. Frenchie Carole called ahead to ask the farm to prepare and reserve two chickens for us. Upon arrival we got a chance to take a little tour of the farm grounds with the owner’s son. Because of the high temperature the chickens were mostly chilling under the trees.
We were very impressed to see how much space they have to roam around. And we only saw one of the fields! The chickens not only have a lot of space, they are well-cared for and healthy. With our first mission accomplished we set off towards Switzerland with the refrigerated chickens close to the air conditioning in the car.
The chickens were sold to us for €24,- a piece, with the feet and head still attached (to prove it’s a genuine poulet de Bresse), as well as the giblets still inside. Upon arrival in Montreux, we were thrilled to hand over the chickens to the care of Sandra and Cédric, but needed to do a little photo session first. Look at Mr. T.’s happy face. Oh, joy!
A little tip on keeping the chicken: it lasts longer if it’s still in one piece, contrary to chicken fillet bought from the supermarket, which will not last more than four days in the fridge.
Then it was time for the chicken party! Cédric cooked both chickens in the oven with garlic, shallots and fresh herbs and believe me, it was sublime! Mission Bresse chicken from farm to table: accomplished. Bon appétit!