Creole Chicken


Poulet aux bananes, served on a vintage Wedgwood Etruria plate. The embroidered table linens were made in the 1960s for American socialite Mrs Gilbert Wolff Kahn Sr.

No country’s food escapes outside influences. Whether through invasion, immigration, or just plain geographic neighborliness, what we dine on often has echoes of other lands and cultures. France is no different. Surely this accounts for the inclusion of a dish called poulet aux bananes (chicken with bananas) in Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec’s La Cuisine de France (1961).

The exotic pairing of bananas, a product of tropical lands, and chicken, the classic Gallic viand, blends more happily than you might expect. The mingling of France and the Caribbean is heightened through fragrant ginger and lashings of rum. Adding to the drama is the moment in the cooking process when you set it aflame, thanks to the rum, which is pretty dramatic and a great child-pleaser. Poulet aux bananes is the kind of dish one can imagine being on the menu at Malmaison, the home of Napoléon Bonaparte’s famously lovely Creole empress, Joséphine, a native of Martinique.

We had this toothsome recipe last night, though with the bananas on the side, along with plum tomatoes sliced in half and lightly cooked with pine nuts, chopped onion, balsamic vinegar, butter, and brown sugar.

Side dishes of cooked bananas and plum tomatoes.

POULET AUX BANANES

SOURCE: La Cuisine de France by Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec (Orion, 1961)

3-pound chicken

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons oil

1-1/2 tablespoons rum

1/2 cup white wine

Pinch of ginger

5 bananas

Salt and pepper

Browned chicken doused with dark rum and set aflame.

Have the chicken cut into pieces. Heat the butter and oil in a deep skillet or sauteuse, and when hot, brown the chicken over a moderate heat. Stir the chicken with a wooden spoon so that it will be well browned on all sides. Season with salt and pepper and add the rum. Touch with a lighted match and stir until the flame subsides.

Add the white wine and a pinch of ginger and cook covered over a low heat for 1 hour.

Peel the bananas and poach them in simmering water for about 2 minutes. Drain, cut in rounds, and keep warm.

Put the chicken with its sauce on a heated platter and surround with the banana slices.

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6 comments on “Creole Chicken

  1. grams says:

    nummm…nummmmm

  2. littleaugury says:

    Ah ha! this one makes me cry, but happy tears. I am familiar with the “French” banana-curious, there was a recent post on AAL about frozen banana on a twig, if I remember correctly?

    • Ah, you mean the Elsie de Wolfe banana ice cream, I think. Somebody did suggest just putting a banana on a stick and freezing it as an alternative!

      • littleaugury says:

        of course, that was me,I am beginning to see banana in an entirely new light. Hope you are tracking the receipts with banana as an ingredient (3? within the last few weeks?)

  3. Your daughter’s feelings about the eel are identical to my feelings about bananas. Perhaps she will be mature and outgrow it. I have yet to reach that maturity with bananas.

  4. SDG says:

    Oh my. It looks mouth watering.

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