This first season of Eat for the Spirit of Burgundy will focus on ten classic French recipes, that will adorn any dining table and make an excellent partner for a lovely bottle of Burgundy.

As man cannot live on bread alone, the subject of eating and love is often close to our hearts.

The origin of Poulet Celestine

In Lyon in 1860, the restaurant du Cercle was owned and run by a young and beautiful widow of thirty years of age, Mme Celestine Blanchard. The kitchen was operated by a talented and good-looking chef, aged 28 years old, named Jacques Rousselot; who longed for the beautiful Celestine.

But Celestine reserved her charm and heart-breaking smile for the customers came through the door of Restaurant du Cercle, to enjoy its celebrated cuisine.

After meditating on the need to take decisive action, Jacques took his chance, and after the lunch service had subsided, he set down before his employer a silver dish containing a meal he announced as “Le Poulet Celestine”.

Celestine took a sniff of the delicious aromas rising from the dish, and raised a mouthful of the chicken to her lips.

Then, she married her chef.

The restaurant du Cercle vanished from Lyon in 1900 when its neighbourhood was rebuilt. But, in those 40 years, the recipe for Poulet Celestine became both a legend and a classic at the same time.

Come and feed on a dish founded on desire and an appetite for love.

Poulet Celestine Ingredients

1 tender and flavoursome chicken.

¼ pound of mushrooms.

1 large, ripe tomato.

1 cup of white wine.

½ cup of meat juices.

1 liqueur glass of Brandy.

Cayenne pepper.

A handful of Parsley.

1 small clove of garlic.

Salt and Pepper.

Preparation of Poulet Celestine

Cut up the chicken into separate pieces. Saute the chicken pieces in melted butter in a large pan until they are brown. Add the diced mushrooms. Peel and seed the tomato and cut it into a big dice. Sauté the mushrooms and tomato and chicken together over a good heat for five minutes.

Pour in the white wine, the meat juices and the brandy. Season with the salt-and-pepper according to your taste. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken pieces and keep them warm in the oven. Skim any fat off the sauce in the pan and then reduce the sauce to concentrate the flavour. Sprinkle in the chopped parsley and a little of the very finely chopped garlic. Remove the chicken pieces from the oven and pour sauce over them and serve.

Bon appetit!

I have served this dish with both white and red Burgundy down the years, and my guests have all enjoyed a beautiful time at the table.

Source: “The Hundred Glories of French Cooking” by Robert Courtine. 1971.