Bresse chicken is special. I had heard so much about poularde de Bresse en vessie or Bresse chicken cooked inside of a pig's bladder that when the opportunity arose while in Lyon, I had to take advantage of it. Having an extra day in Lyon thanks to the national greve or strike against transportation, I was able to spend it seeing a bit more of Lyon than I previously had been able to. I also had a chance to visit a few more of its culinary highlights, in particular Les Halles e Lyon.
That afternoon my friend Lucy Vanel (she has a great blog) and I walked from her apartment on
Presque' Ile to Les Halles to meet up with my friend, Will, for some nice fresh Brittany oysters. The oysters were wonderful, but while we were waiting, Lucy and I perused the market. while we were admiring the Bresse chickens and pigeons, Lucy pointed out a prepared but uncooked poularde de Bresse en vessie in the refrigerated case. This was something that I had heard much about, but never experienced. Though the price at 68 Euros was not inexpensive, it would be a lot cheaper than eating one at a restaurant. I asked Lucy if she knew how to cook it. Replying affirmatively, I offered to pay for it, if she cared to prepare it. When we met up with Will, the dinner quickly morphed into adding a few additional Lyonnais specialties such as pike quenelles, tripe and a few other things.
At the poultry stand, the butcher quickly finished the preparation of the chicken and vegetable filled bladder. We also purchased some monkfish belly and a few other items before moving on. On the way back to the apartment we stopped at another traiteur, Au Petit Vatel, to pick up some pike quenelles.
The dinner quickly morphed from an intimate gathering to a small dinner party of 8 people. Lucy cooked some fresh Galician chorizo that I had brought from Madrid, Lyonnais style tripe, the quenelles, pork stuffed monkfish belly and then the chicken. Everything was delicious, especially the quenelles, and the company proved wonderful as well.
The chicken, simmereed for three and a half hours along with carrots, celery and turnips , however, turned out to be a glorified chicken soup. It was tasty, but ultimately not more so than any other good chicken soup. I'm glad that I tried it, though ultimately I could not understand its elevated reputation.