Julia Child’s “Poulet au Porto” (Roast Chicken Steeped with Port Wine, Cream, and Mushrooms)


I love it when I prepare a meal and people rave over the results.

Julia Child wrote , “It is the kind of dish to do when you are entertaining  a few good, food-loving friends whom you can receive in your kitchen.”

…and Julia should know!

I wasn’t prepared to photograph the ignited cognac, but trust me, it adds a bit of excitement to the room.

Poulet au Porto

(Roast Chicken Steeped with Port Wine, Cream, and Mushrooms)


Adapted from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume One”, by Julia Child


Serve very good, chilled, white Burgundy such as a Meursault or Montrachet, or an excellent, chateau-bottled white Graves.

For 4 people

A 3- 4 lb., ready-to-cook, roasting or frying chicken

The original recipe calls for roasting the chicken according to the instructions in her book, but I really like to butterfly and pan roast my chickens.  I learned to do this from a Wolfgang Puck  recipe for “Pan Roasted Chicken with Port and Whole Grain Mustard”.   You may roast your chicken any way you choose, but I find butterflying and pan roasting gives me a crispy crust and a very moist chicken.  Plus, it cooks much faster!

I followed these instructions for my pan roasted chicken:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat an ovenproof skillet large enough to hold the chicken over high heat. Add a few Tablespoons of clarified butter ( or oil and butter ) and swirl it in the skillet.  Carefully place the chicken skin side down in the skillet. Sear the chicken, undisturbed, while reducing the heat little by little to medium, until its skin has turned golden brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Carefully turn the chicken skin side up.

Put the skillet into the oven and cook until the chicken is deep golden brown and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer, 20- 30 minutes, depending on its size. When the chicken is done, remove it to a carving board and let it rest at room temperature while completing the sauce.

1 lb. fresh mushrooms (I mixed white and crimini)

Meanwhile, trim and wash the mushrooms. Quarter them if large, leave them whole if small.

In a  2 1/2-quart enameled or stainless steel saucepan-

1/4 cup water

1/2 Tb butter

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

Bring the water to boil in the saucepan with the butter, lemon, and salt. Toss in the mushrooms, cover, and boil slowly for 8 minutes. Pour out the cooking liquid and reserve.

1 cup whipping cream

1/2 Tb cornstarch blended with 1 Tb of the cream

Salt and pepper

Pour the cream and the cornstarch mixture into the mushrooms. Simmer for 2 minutes. Correct seasoning, and set aside.

1/2 Tb minced shallots

1/3 cup medium-dry port

The reserved mushroom cooking liquid

The mushrooms in cream

Salt and pepper

Drops of lemon juice

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the roasting pan. Stir in the shallots and cook slowly for 1 minute. Add the port and the mushroom juice, and boil down rapidly, scraping up coagulated roasting juices, until liquid has reduced to about 1/4 cup. Add the mushrooms and cream and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, allowing the liquid to thicken slightly. Correct seasoning and add lemon juice to taste.

A fireproof casserole or a chafing dish

1 Tb butter

1/8 tsp salt

Smear the inside of the casserole or chafing dish with butter. Rapidly carve the chicken into serving pieces. Sprinkle lightly with salt, and arrange in the casserole or chafing dish.

1/4 cognac  (I bought one of those tiny bottles at the liquor store)

Set over moderate heat or an alcohol flame until you hear the chicken begin to sizzle. Then pour the cognac over it. Avert your face, and ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole slowly until the flames have subsided. The pour in the mushroom mixture, tilting the casserole and basting the chicken. Cover and steep for 5 minutes without allowing the sauce to boil. Serve.

(*) Chicken may remain in its casserole over barely simmering water or in the turned-off hot oven with its door ajar, for 10 to 15 minutes, but the sooner it is served, the better it will be.

Julia Child  recommends serving this chicken with

“Pommes De Terre Sautees” (Potatoes Sauteed in Butter) and peas

and so I did!


These are quite satisfying.  Cooking the potatoes in clarified butter made them extra flavorful!

I’m not sure I cut them up the the book advised, but I we all enjoyed them anyhow.

I will make these again and again.


Dessert was served hot out of the oven.  One of my favorite cakes.  You can get the recipe by clicking on the link below the photo.


The Upside Down Pear Cake baked while we ate, and I pulled it out and served it nice and warm.

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9 thoughts on “Julia Child’s “Poulet au Porto” (Roast Chicken Steeped with Port Wine, Cream, and Mushrooms)

  1. Oh Good Lord!!!!

    The next time I come to visit you have to promise you’ll make this.

    Along with the artisan bread, coconut cream pie… the list goes on and on 😉

  2. So much info in your post today! I need to roast my chicken that way. I think it’s called spatchcocking or something. What a funny word. Anyway, this looks wonderful. I am a little afraid of the flambeing. I’m usually a clutz so the thought of me and an open fire is just very scary. lol

    • I had no idea it was called that. Now I can’t wait to announce that the next time I’m doing chicken in this style. LOL! I’ll be walking around all day telling everybody I am going to be “spatchcocking”!
      I was afraid of flambe as well, so my son fired it up while I stood back. It was pretty well contained and not at all scary.

  3. I’ve made Poulet au Porto from Julia Child’s seminal book numerous times, but yesterday (Christmas 2010) was the first time I tried your butterflying modification. It came out rather well if I may say so myself (the lack of leftovers was a hint that my opinion was shared by my family and our guests). Thanks for posting the idea — among other things, it shortens the cooking time.

    I’ve already got ideas for some good rubs on a butterflied chicken then cooked on the grill. Yummmmmm.

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