a winning dish: chicken bouillabaise!

during the time we lived in france my parents would treat themselves to bouillabaise once in a while at a restaurant that was quite famous for it in the region. i remember watching them savor every bite of this traditional provençal fish stew (which originates from the port city of marseille), and wondering why they enjoyed it so much! the soup or broth is typically served separately from the fish with some crusty baguette or toast topped with rouille which is an olive oil based delicious emulsion (mayonnaise) flavored with garlic and saffron. the way i look at it, bouillabaise is basically the provençal version of persian abgoosht {water-meat}! an authentic stew with simple ingredients that simmers for a nice long time to create a flavorful satisfying meal. yesterday i was looking for a good (and different) chicken recipe when i came across the barefoot contessa’s (Ina Garten) chicken bouillabaise from her “barefoot contessa-back to basics” cook book. with the exception of the pernod (which i left out because i didn’t have any), i followed the recipe pretty closely, and although the resulting dish  was not quite a bouillabaise, it was truly delicious and really hit the spot.  i will definitely serve it again {very soon}!

{recipe for my interpretation}
ingredients for 4-6 servings:

  • 5-6 whole organic skinless chicken legs
  • 2-3 tsp fresh minced rosemary
  • sea salt, cracked pepper to taste
  • 4-5 tbs good tomato paste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2-1 head garlic, separated in cloves & peeled
  • baby yellow potatoes (10-15) sliced
  • 1.5 cups dry white wine
  • 1.5 cups preferably home made chicken stock
  • saffron (1-2 tsp ground) or about 7-10 strands


1. sprinkle the (patted dry) chicken with sea salt, cracked pepper, and rosemary, then  brown for about 3-4 minutes on each side in a heavy dutch oven with 2 tbs olive oil. remove from pan, set aside.

2. leaving the chicken juices in the pot, add garlic, 1 tsp saffron, fennel seeds, the broth, wine, sea salt, pepper, and tomato paste scraping the bottom and stirring before covering. let this sauce simmer and thicken for 45 minutes or so.

3. slice the potatoes in halves or quarters, set aside in a bowl covered with cold water

sauce blended in the processor

4. when the sauce has thickened and the garlic is completely softened (almost melted), carefully add it to a blender or food processor, blend well.

browned chicken & sliced potatoes covered in the blended sauce

5. return the chicken to the dutch oven or a baking dish, add potatoes, and cover with the blended sauce. cover the pot (dutch oven) with lid and bake in a 300-350 degree oven for at least 45 minutes (i baked it for 1 hour and 15 minutes).

chilled rouille

for the ROUILLE:

  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 large organic egg yolk
  • 1.5 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron (threads or ground)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2-3/4 cup good olive oil

in a food processor with a steel blade combine garlic (minced separately on a board with salt), egg yolk, lemon juice, saffron, and pepper flakes-process until the mixture is smooth, then feed the oil in while the machine is running in a stream until you have a mayonnaise like emulsion. serve the rouille with the bouillabaise and toasted crusty bread or toast.

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