“On the Third Day of Christmas my true love gave to me three French hens…”
First of all, I would like to dedicate this day to my cousin Liz. In her office Liz has a special calendar titled “Chickens of the Month.” That’s right – chickens. Apparently my youngest cousin has a thing for designer fowl. These aren’t your ordinary birds, but rather fancy looking chickens, such as the Crevecoeur or the Houdan, both of which are French breeds.
There actually are quite a few poultry breeds which originated in France, most of which do not appear to be very common here in America. The Crevecoeur itself is one of the oldest French breeds, named after the village in Normandy from which it comes. They are usually black, with interesting plumage around their head. Although in the past it was raised for its meat and eggs, today the Crevecoeur is considered mainly a designer breed, kept for decoration or show. They are in fact endangered in their native country, and thus not found in the same numbers as in the past.
The first of our Three French Hens – a Crevecoeur female chicken
Another French breed is the Marans chicken, which was first bred in the marshy areas of France. Although there are a number of color variations for this bird, a black and white speckled coloring known the “Cuckoo” is the most common. They also come in an attractive Black Copper coloring – with a black body and copper colored feathers on the neck and head. This breed is especially known for its dark brown chocolate colored eggs, which are something of a novelty item when placed alongside standard white or tan colored eggs.
The dark chocolate brown eggs of Marans chickens, as compared to a standard white egg
The second French Hen – a Cuckoo Marans female
Finally, we have the Houdans. While this is just another of the many French breeds that are out there, I thought it worth mentioning here at the Crossroads, especially since I was able to find pictures of them on a website operated by Sunni, The Crazy Chicken Lady. Obviously Sunni likes chickens, and the Houdan appears to be the only French breed she raises. There were a number of pictures of her Houdan hens on her website, and they all have names – Copernica, Giselle, and Estelle. It was hard choosing one picture for this post, as all three photographs were nice (there was especially a nice head shot of Copernica), but since this is the THREE French Hens, I had to make a decision…
The third French Hen – this is Giselle, a white Houdan.
Special thanks to Sunni, the Crazy Chicken Lady.
There you have it, folks. The Three French Hens.
While I don’t necessarily advise that you go running after Giselle or her fellow chicken models with an axe (I suspect Sunni would come after you with a shotgun if you tried), this is supposed to be a culinary post after all, utilizing various dishes to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas. So what could we eat for the third day?
A french chicken dish, of course.
There are a variety of chicken dishes which herald from France – Coq au Vin, which is chicken cooked in wine (usually red wine such as a burgundy); Chicken Fricassee, which describes a dish of chicken cut into pieces and then stewed in a gravy usually made of white wine and cream; or chicken roasted with various herbs, such as tarragon (Chicken Tarragon); rosemary, oregano and thyme (Chicken Provencal); or forty cloves of garlic. There’s Blancs de Poulet au Fromage (Chicken Breasts Covered with Cheese) or Poule au Pot (Chicken in a Pot).
Coq au Vin
Paupiette de Poulet au Fromage Frais
Chicken Cordon Bleu, a boneless chicken breast stuffed with ham and cheese is commonly referred to as a French dish, but it is actually an American invention, although it does have a French influence.
In any case, the French – being the expert cooks they are – have many mouth-watering poultry dishes from various regions of France. It shouldn’t be too hard to find one that appeals to your taste buds. So enjoy the day and Bon Appetit!