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Bouillabaisse de Poulet
Chez Tante Paulette

Chicken Stew with Fennel
and Saffron

From the book Bistro Cooking by
Serves 4 to 6
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 12 hours


Chez Tante Paulette is one of my favorite bistros in the world. It’s an authentic, old-fashioned spot on a small side street in Lyons, run by the elderly Marie-Louise Auteli, better known as Tante Paulette. Her most famous dish is chicken with garlic, and following that, fans flock to her little upstairs dining room to feast on the unusual bouillabaisse de poulet.

Like its famous counterpart — which is prepared with the freshest of Mediterranean fish — this bouillabaisse is infused with onions, garlic, tomatoes, a touch of fennel, and a wave of saffron. While Madame Auteli serves hers with the classic red-pepper mayonnaise known as rouille and slices of grilled bread, I tend to prefer my chicken stew as is, with a few sips of chilled white wine, such as a white Cassis from the fishing village not far from Marseilles.


4 tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded, and chopped
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4 large fennel bulbs with feathery leaves attached, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
cup licorice-flavored aperitif, such as Ricard or Pernod
~ Generous pinch of saffron
~ Small handful of fresh thyme, or several teaspoons dried thyme
4 imported bay leaves
~ Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 chicken legs with thighs attached, skin removed
1 lb. boiling potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade


  1. The day before you plan to serve the dish, combine the tomatoes, onions, garlic, fennel, olive oil, licorice-flavored aperitif, saffron, herbs, and seasonings in a nonreactive large covered casserole or Dutch oven. Stir to blend. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours to blend the seasonings.
  2. At least 1 hour before you begin to prepare the dish, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Stew the chicken in its marinade, covered, over medium heat, stirring from time to time, for about 30 minutes. Add the potatoes and chicken stock and simmer until the potatoes are cooked, an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Serve in warmed shallow soup bowls.


This is a wonderful dish to make when entertaining, because almost all of the prep work takes place hours before you cook it.

Culinate editor’s notes: Because of the long list of bulky ingredients, you will need at least two standard Dutch ovens (4 to 5 quarts each) to make this dish, not just one. You can skip the labor of blanching, peeling, coring, and seeding the four fresh tomatoes by using four whole canned tomatoes instead. And if you don’t have anise-flavored liqueur on hand, replace it with a tablespoon or so of fennel and/or anise seeds and ⅓ to ½ cup dry white wine. Serve this stew with the traditional seafood-bouillabaisse accompaniment of aïoli, if you like.

This content is from the book Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells.

There is 1 comment on this item
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Average Rating 5
100% recommend this recipe
1. by Gerry Greene on Jan 24, 2014 at 7:56 AM PST
Rating: five

Rather than buying some Pernod, I followed your advice and used white wine (quite a lot) and anise...but I only had star anise, which turned out to be lucky. I’ve made this dish a number of times before and will always be using star anise in the future. I also added much more chicken broth in order to make it soupy...and only made half a recipe with more boneless chicken pieces than called for.

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