Cookin' Outdoors with Johnny Nix                                
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Chicken Gratin

For the chicken

  • One 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-pound fryer chicken, cut up (or use all legs and thighs, or all breasts)
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large handful finely crumbled stale, but not dried, bread, crusts removed
  • 1/3 cup white wine

For the cheese custard

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Salt, pepper
  • 3 ounces freshly grated Gruyère
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon and deglazing liquid
  1. Heat the oven to 400° F. Salt the chicken pieces and cook them in the butter over medium heat until nearly done and lightly colored on all sides -- about 20 minutes, adding the breasts only after the first 10 minutes. Transfer them to a gratin dish of a size to just hold them, arranged side by side.
  2. Cook the crumbs in the chicken's cooking butter until slightly crisp and only slightly colored -- still blond, stirring. Put them aside (don't worry if a few remain in the pan) and deglaze the pan with the white wine, reducing it by about half.
  3. Whisk together the cream, egg yolks, seasonings, and cheese, then incorporate the lemon and the deglazing liquid. Spoon or pour this mixture evenly over the chicken pieces, sprinkle the surface with the breadcrumbs, and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the surface is nicely colored and the custard is firm.