History of a Dish: Poulet en Vessie

We joined The Culinary Institute of America to watch French culinary techniques come to life with this quite curious classic dish.

By combining classic French epicurean techniques with contemporary food-centric philosophies, The Culinary Institute of America’s Bocuse Restaurant crafts exquisitely creative dishes that are impossible not to love. One of those dishes, Poulet en Vessie, makes use of a quite curious technique, which we at Hudson Valley Magazine caught first hand during our most recent “History of a Dish” segment with Bocuse’s Chef Jason Potanovich.

As Potanovich explains, “Poulet en Vessie” translates to “chicken in the bladder.” Yes, this dish is literally cooked in a bladder — a pig’s bladder. It’s a technique aimed at enveloping the chicken breast in steam and infusing it with the flavors of black truffle, white wine, and foie gras that also occupy the bladder as it sits poaching in chicken broth.

“The steam starts to permeate and gives a great, intense flavor back into the chicken,” says Potanovich. “It retains all of these unbelievable flavors inside the bag, so it’s all marinated together.”

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The dish has roots in early Escoffien French cuisine, and was served by Paul Bocuse, the restaurant’s namesake for many years. Typically, the Bocuse’s Poulet en Vessie is paired with vegetables appropriate for each season, sourced either from the CIA’s own on-campus gardens or from local purveyor Farms2Tables in Rhinebeck (they have a live app that allows buyers to see local products directly from farmers and producers throughout the Hudson Valley).

During the segment, Potanovich showed off a vibrant collection of produce to be plated with the chicken, including fresh cranberry beans, garlic scapes, corn, pattypan squash, sugar snap peas, and baby zucchini. However, as the season starts to change, so will the accompanying veggies.  

After the poulet finished poaching, Potanovich cut open the vessie, and the accompanying fragrances were truly remarkable: the truffle, wine, and foie gras billowed up to the nose like a freshly popped soup dumpling. Removing the chicken from it’s vessel, Potanovich trimmed the juicy, brined breast and plated it amongst the vibrant vegetables, grating fresh truffles on top and drizzling a reduction formed from the foie gras that marinated inside the vessie.

All in all, the Bocuse’s Poulet en Vessie was intensely flavorful, each ingredient that lived inside the bladder during poaching adding it’s distinct personality while not overpowering anything of the others. Paired with a nice Chardonnay, the dishes many characteristics came off as well-executed, seasonal, and downright delicious. If you’d like to get a taste of the Poulet en Vessie on your own, head over to the Bocuse Restaurant at the CIA campus in Hyde Park, and continue to tune in for our upcoming History of a Dish segments with the CIA.

To watch the latest segment, click here

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