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Chicken Bonne Femme

“Good woman’s chicken” and its variations (chicken Clemenceau and chicken Pontalba) is one of the best dishes in the Creole cookbook. There is little agreement on how it’s prepared, but potatoes and garlic are always part of the recipe. This one evolved in my kitchen from the very good version at Antoine’s, with inspiration from the super-garlicky, great bonne femme at Tujague’s.

Chicken bonne femme, about halfway done.

Chicken bonne femme, about halfway done.

  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch squares
  • 2 chickens, about 3 1/2 lbs., quartered
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1/2 cup ham, cut into tiny dice
  • 1 cups chopped green onion tops
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. Tabasco
  • 2 lbs. white potatoes, peeled and cut into three-quarter-inch dice
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 stick butter
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

1. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisp, then remove. Leave the fat in the skillet.

2. Salt and pepper the chicken quarters, then dust lightly with flour. Raise the heat to high and brown the chicken pieces in the bacon fat on all sides. Remove the chicken pieces and keep warm.

3. In the same pan cook the ham, green onions, and yellow onions until the latter turn translucent. Add mushrooms, wine, Worcestershire, and Tabasco, and bring it up to a boil. After a minute, lower to a simmer.

4. In a separate skillet, fry the potatoes in 375-degree oil until very lightly browned. Drain them well and add to the ham, onions, etc. You now have the bonne femme garnish.

5. Continue simmering sauce until all of the liquid is absorbed; lightly stir to distribute ingredients. Remove from heat.

6. Heat the butter in a small saucepan until it starts bubbling. Lower the heat, skim the foam off, and add the garlic. Cook the garlic in the hot butter for about a minute.

7. Put the chicken pieces in a broiling pan. Put the pan into a preheated 400-degree oven and cook for seven to ten minutes. Turn the pieces, and cook them another 5-7 minutes.

8. Spoon the bonne femme garnish over and between the chicken pieces. Crumble the bacon over the top. Continue cooking until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced. Serve the bonne femme garnish over the top of the chicken pieces.

9. Serve with lots of the bonne femme garnish.

Serves four.

3 Readers Commented

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  1. Garry B on September 18, 2014

    I was looking for your version of Chicken Pontalba. I used your recipe to cook that dish for friends many times many years ago but have since lost the recipe. The dish was always a hit with my friends and is one of my all time favorites. Very rich but very satisfying in a comfort food sort of way. It was contained in a recipe book that you gave to subscribers of your Menu newsletter several years ago. It was titled the Ten Best New Orleans Dishes and a hundred more if my memory serves me correctly. I believe Chicken Pontalba is Chicken Bonne Femme with the addition of Beranaise napped over the top? The dish has been on my mind lately and with the recent cool snap we’ve had where I’m working here in Arkansas, it is something that I want to cook for an upcoming dinner party I’m having.

    • Tom Fitzmorris on September 20, 2014

      I was surprised to see that I don’t have chicken Pontalba in my recipe pile. I will remedy that during the coming week. In the meantime, I do have Filet Mignon Pontalba, and all you need to do is take out the filets and replace them with a roasted chicken. If you need help with that, check out the recipe for chicken Bonne Femme.

      All of these recipes are at nomenu.com. In the main menu near the top of the page, click on Recipes, then All Recipes, A-Z.

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris

  2. Paul Breaux on December 28, 2014

    Chicken Bonne Femme recipe turned out great! Not clear what to do with butter-garlic mixture. I poured it over chicken before putting it in oven. Is this right?

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