Poule au Pot (Hen Stew)

This recipe calls for a large, fat hen. It’s been a traditional Sunday family meal for centuries. Serve with white rice.

Serves: 12Hands-on: 40 minutesTotal: 4 hours 40 minutesDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 12


  • 1 hen (at least 10 lbs.)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled and cut in two
  • 4 medium turnips, peeled and cut in 1" chunks
  • 2 leeks, green part cut off, each cut in 2 chunks
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour


  • Fill a very large stove pot (big enough to contain a whole hen!) with cold water, and add the hen. Peel the onion, nail the cloves in it, then add it to the water. Bring to a boil, and regularly skim the foam.
  • Add the carrots, turnips, and leeks to the pot.
  • Add the chicken stock, salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low, skim the foam once again, then cover and simmer for 3 hours (4 hours is even better).
  • About 15 minutes before serving, take a small saucepan and put it over medium-low heat. Melt the butter in it, then add the flour and stir well. Remove bay leaf from broth. Take out 1 cup of broth from the pot. Pour it slowly over the butter and the flour when they have turned into a kind of paste. Stir well over low heat for 10 minutes, until it turns into a hearty and thick white sauce.
  • Take the hen out and put all its parts in a serving dish; it should have cooked for so long that parts are falling apart naturally. Add the vegetables around the hen. Pour the white sauce on it.
  • Serve immediately.