This dish is one of the famous chicken creations of New Orleans, along with Chicken Bon Femme , Chicken Pontalba, and Chicken Rochambeau. It’s named for Georges Clemençeau (1841-1929), a French statesman who became the French Premier in 1906. He served as the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. In favor of a total victory over the German Empire, he militated for the restitution of Alsace-Lorraine to France. He was one of the principal architects of the Treaty of Versailles at the France Peace Conference of 1919. Nicknamed “Père la Victoire” (Father Victory) or “Le Tigre” (The Tiger).
My dish is based on version that was first served at but Galatoire’s , one of the grandest and oldest Creole restaurants in New Orleans. Galatoire’s was founded in 1905 by Jean Galatoire, and distinguished itself on Bourbon Street from its humble beginnings. From the small village of Pardies, France, Jean Galatoire brought recipes and traditions inspired by the familial dining style of his homeland to create the menu and ambiance of the internationally-renowned restaurant. In its fifth generation, it is the Galatoire family and descendants who have carried the tradition of New Orleans’ fine dining restaurants and influenced its evolution.
So how did this dish come about ? Well, Clemençeau is credited with bringing France from the brink of defeat to victory in World War I. In part, he did so by convincing the Allies to unify their efforts through the leadership of a supreme commander, previously unheard of among nations of the day.Equally unheard of was the amalgamation of chicken, fried potatoes, garlic, mushrooms, and canned peas into a single dish, as was achieved at Galatoire’s in the 1920’s to delicious effect. And so the dish was named in his honor.
At once glamorous and homey, the nostalgic dish is still on the menu at many old-line dining rooms in New Orleans, an enduring favorite that deserves to be revisited. Authenticity requires using a young fowl known as a poussin or a spring chicken, but it is fine to substitute a small fryer or even boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
And with that in mind, I made a few variations to the original recipe. Chicken breast were used here, mainly because it was what I had on hand at the time. Also note that Brabant Potatoes, are usually fried, and in this recipe, I baked them instead with great time saving results.The original recipe also called for canned baby peas (petit pois), but I opted for fresh baby green peas, lightly blanched, because I like bright vegetables on my plate.
To complete this meal, serve this dish with a full-bodied Chardonnay.
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 chicken breasts, lightly pounded
2 cups mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 small white onion, chopped
2 scallions, sliced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 Tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
1 cup fresh petite green peas, blanched
Preheat an oven to 400 º F.
Toss the diced potatoes in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Place on a baking sheet, and into the oven for 35 minutes, occasionally turning them with a spatula for even browning.
When the potatoes are almost golden brown, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter, and 1 tablespoons of the oil in an ovenproof skillet. When the fat is bubbling and hot, add the chicken breasts, which have been seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper, brown quickly on both sides, remove to a plate.
In the same hot pan add the mushrooms, saute until golden brown. Add the onions and garlic, season with a little salt and pepper, saute until the onions are almost tender and have some color. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, cook for 2 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoons of the parsley.Place the chicken back in the pan and cover with some of the “sauce.” Place in the oven until the chicken is just cooked through.
To serve, divide the Brabant potatoes between two warmed plates, making a pile in the center, place a chicken breast on each.Melt the remaining butter into the sauce, and fold in the peas until just warmed through. Divide the sauce over the two chicken breasts and garnish with the remaining parsley.