By Carol Borchardt, chef/owner of A Thought for Food Personal Chef Service and 2010 APPCA Chef of the Year

Reprinted with permission from The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn., August 15, 2012

Because today is the 100th anniversary of Julia Child’s birth, I wanted to cook something French to honor her and the inspiration she was to me. I didn’t want to do anything complicated, nor heavy or rich this time of year. Paging through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 2, I found her recipe for chicken bouillabaisse, a variation on the classic seafood stew from Marseille in Provence, France.

The seafood version is typically prepared for a large number of people, with a minimum of three different types of seafood. Chicken also works well with all the flavorings of the classic seafood version, is easily adapted to two servings and is more budget-friendly — especially if you use thighs and drumsticks as I did.

If you don’t care for dark chicken meat, split chicken breasts on the bone will also work. Cooking chicken on the bone results in juicier chicken and a more flavorful dish overall. Remove the skin before (or after) cooking to make the dish more healthful.

When working with leeks, be sure to clean them well, as they can be gritty. Cut in half lengthwise, slice, then place in a bowl of water. Move them around a bit with your hand and the dirt and grit will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Remove with a slotted spoon, and they’re clean and ready to add to your dish.

The rich broth of a bouillabaisse always contains saffron. It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way, and too much can overwhelm your dish.

To remove the orange peel from a fresh orange, use a vegetable peeler. Be careful to avoid as much of the white pith as possible—it’s bitter.

A bouillabaisse is always served with a rouille, which translates to “rust” because of the color. It’s a thick garlicky sauce that often includes breadcrumbs and some type of chili pepper. However, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive recipe. The one included here, adapted from, is easy and tasty. Crusty bread served alongside to soak up the rich broth also is a must.

According to Julia, this dish also is delicious served cold. Refrigerate for several hours, then scrape off any fat from the surface. Serve the chicken as is; the cooking stock will set lightly like a jellied consommé. Bon appétit!

Julia Child’s Chicken Bouillabaisse is a variation of the classic seafood stew that is budget-friendly and can be downsized to two servings. A pinch of saffron provides the rich broth with its signature flavor.

Bouillabaisse de Poulet (Chicken Poached in White Wine with Provençal Vegetables, Herbs and Flavorings)

For the chicken:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
1 small leek (or more onion), thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about ¾ cup)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
2 chicken thighs, on the bone
2 chicken drumsticks
¾ cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
¼ tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
1 pinch saffron threads
1 2-inch piece orange peel
Cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce, to taste
2 medium red or Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

For rouille:
1 small pinch saffron threads
1 tbsp. hot cooking liquid from pot
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ tsp. sweet paprika
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and leek and cook covered for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until tender but not browned.
2. Stir in the tomatoes and garlic. Cover and cook 5 minutes so that the tomatoes render their juices, then uncover, raise heat and let juices almost evaporate.
3. When tomatoes are done, season chicken lightly with salt and pepper and add to pot skin-side down, arranging vegetables around and on top. Cover and cook 10 minutes over medium heat, turning once.
4. Pour the wine and broth over the chicken. Add the bay leaf, thyme, fennel, saffron, orange peel and cayenne or Tabasco sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 10 minutes.
5. Add potatoes and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken and potatoes are tender.
6. To serve: Skim off any surface fat, remove bay leaf, orange peel and thyme stems. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into bowls, serve with a dollop of rouille and crusty bread.
7. For rouille: Place saffron threads in a small bowl. Remove 1 tablespoon of the hot cooking liquid and allow saffron to soften a bit. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Bouillabaisse recipe adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two, by Julia Child. Rouille recipe adapted from

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Caron Golden


Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.

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