Reading in Goldfinger (1959) James Bond’s pursuit of the eponymous villain across France and into Switzerland, I suspected it wasn’t the first time that Bond had travelled in those parts, and some of the places he seemed to know quite well. This is confirmed in John Pearson’s ‘biography’ of James Bond, published in 1973. In the book, Bond recalls how, before the war, he and an old school friend, ‘Burgler’ Brinton, had motored from Geneva to Paris. On the way, they stopped at Mâcon (Bond would pass through the town again in Goldfinger) for lunch of poularde ‘comme chez soi’ and Champagne at the Auberge Bressane.
Like Ian Fleming, John Pearson alludes to real places for added verisimilitude. The Auberge Bressane did exist and was situated at 14 rue 28-Juin-1944. It was a hostelry of no mean reputation and, though classified by the Guide Michelin as merely having a fairly comfortable restaurant, was sufficiently well regarded to host the annual dinner of the Académie Rabelais. According to the Guide, the specialiaties of the restuarant included poularde ‘comme chez soi’, while its house wines comprised Fleurie and Mâcon-Villages (Bond had a bottle of the latter in Goldfinger).
I’ve no idea how Monsieur Duret, the proprietor and chef in Ian Fleming’s day, prepared his poularde ‘comme chez soi’. It means poularde ‘like at home’, so I’m guessing it’s some sort of long-cherished family recipe. For my own ‘homemade’ recipe, I’ve replaced the poularde (a fattened hen peculiar to the Bresse region) with an ordinary chicken, and in honour of Mâcon’s region the dish is inspired by a Burgundian recipe published in Samuel Chamberlain’s Bouquet de France (1952), essentially becoming poulet au Mâcon-Villages.
- 1 tbsp butter (c. 30g)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium/large chicken, cut into eight portions
- 1 medium onion or 3-4 baby onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tbsp flour
- 2 tsp mixed herbs, finely chopped (eg bay leaf, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, lemon thyme)
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- Generous pinches of salt and black pepper
- 200ml white wine, preferably Mâcon-Villages
- 200ml chicken stock (ideally made beforehand with the chicken carcass)
- 2 tbsp double cream
Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan-assisted, 375F). In an oven- and flame-proof pan or casserole, heat the butter and oil over a medium heat on the hob, then fry the onion for a minute or two. Add the chicken pieces (two legs, two thighs and four breast peices) and allow the pieces to brown for 3-4 minutes, turning them over mid-way through. Add the salt and pepper, then sprinkle the flour over the chicken and stir in. Pour in the wine and stock, add the herbs and garlic and mix well. Cover the pan or casserole (or transfer to a lidded oven dish if necessary) and place in the oven for 40 minutes.
Remove the lid after about 30 minutes, and at the end of the cooking time, take the casserole out the oven and place the chicken pieces on a serving dish and keep warm (I simply put an upturned plate over the top). Put the casserole back on the hob and over a high heat reduce the liquid by three-quarters until it’s become a fairly thick, concentrated sauce. Take the casserole off the heat and stir in the cream. Spoon the sauce generously over the chicken and serve. (I suggest accompanying the chicken with fried potatoes, rice or crusty bread and green beans, and of course the rest of the bottle of Mâcon-Villages.)