France 3 Television Comes to On Rue Tatin (And Stays for Supper)

film crew, france, fr3, normandy
film crew, france, fr3, normandy
The crew at work

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a reporter for France 3 Normandie, Christiane Lablancherie.  She’s producing a series on Joy at the Table and wanted to include On Rue Tatin.  I don’t hold classes during this season, so I suggested she film our monthly wine tasting and she jumped all over it.

chicken and shallots
Ingredients for chicken with shallots

Christiane’s mandate was that I prepare two dishes, that she talk about my books, that she film us sipping and tasting.  Hardly rough duty.   I decided to kill two birds with one stone and test a recipe for Plat du Jour at the same time. My recipe choice? Chicken with Shallots.

And of course Christiane wanted me to make  Tarte Tatin.  It’s a cornerstone of French cuisine, common as rainwater, but the Tarte Tatin that issues from On Rue Tatin is, I must admit, perfection.

squash, apples, turnips
Gorgeous ingredients

Gathering ingredients was the first step. This involved a call to Baptiste, “my” maraicher, market gardener.  I hardly take a culinary step without him, because whatever he is pulling from the ground is not only the best, but it’s in season. He’s a pillar of the wine group too; we don’t do a tasting without him.

Two hours before everyone arrived the whole chickens went in the oven to roast, stuffed with clementines because I had them on hand; I usually use either orange or lemon.  I peeled all the shallots, then turned to the apples for the Tarte Tatin.  Christiane wanted to film me doing the prep but I know what it is like to watch someone peel and core six pounds of apples. Boring. So I got two-thirds of them ready to go. I made the pastry so it could rest. I preheated the oven. I put the sugar in the tarte tatin pan.

Christiane arrived at 5:30 to do reconnaissance, then the film crew arrived at six. When they walked in the kitchen, both Didier the cameraman and Serge the sound man, stopped dead in their tracks.  “We imagined filming in a tiny kitchen, which is always so awkward,” Didier said. “This is heaven.”

With the scent of roasting chicken and shallots filling the air, I finished up the apples while they filmed, everything from the peeler to the melon ball maker I use to scoop out the core.  I rolled out the pastry and set the apples to caramelizing, then guests began to arrive. Didier, Serge, and Christiane were star-struck by the hugs and kisses all around. Perhaps they expected formality, but no.  We’ve all been tasting together for a very long time we’re now practically related.   One learns much about another over multiple glasses of terrific wine…

Join me for unforgettable experiences, with some of the same cast of characters, at the amazing On Rue Tatin cooking experiences!

wine, apples, paper, France
Kitchen island transformed into table for wine tasting

Everyone pitched in to transform the kitchen island into a table, setting it with paper and glasses, pens and spittoons.  I removed the chickens from the oven and transferred them to a cutting board.  I had leftover apples from the tarte Tatin so I cut them up and added them to the roasting pan with the shallots. It solved a problem and I figured the more the merrier,.  The pan went back in the oven to so the apples and shallots could continue to roast.

Back at the Tarte Tatin, and the apples were caramelized, so I tucked the pastry around them, and slid the pan in the oven. We all sat down to begin the wine tasting, the cameras and boom everywhere at once.  I knew that my moment of truth would come as I took out the tart and flipped it.  I’ve done this perhaps thousands of times.  Well, hundreds.  And every time I’m sweating.  The pan is hot, heavy, and filled with blistering caramel; the platter is big, wide, slick.  But, flipping has to be done and I’m the one to do it.

Tarte Tatin, apples, caramel, butter, sugar
Tarte Tatin

The moment arrived.  Silence filled the kitchen. The camera and boom zoomed in and I flipped the tart pan.   I suppose no one was the wiser, but seriously? I was  petrified.  Oh well, I guess it’s good to stay scared. Then, you stay careful.  And the result was…see above!  After my flipping exploit everyone clapped. It’s the first time I’ve been applauded for a Tarte Tatin.

wine, food, friends
Friends and wine and good food

We got back to swirling and tasting as the crew filmed, Christiane asked questions, and the evening wore sweetly on.  I finished the sauce for the chicken, cut them up and filled plates. By now the film crew were part of the party and they sat with us to eat.  Silence descended as everyone tasted.  It was, I will admit, succulent, delicious. And while the apples had been an afterthought, Il never again make this dish without them.  Their sweetness was the perfect counterpoint.

As for the wines? Well, Herve and I did what we do. He never knows what I’m going to serve; I never know which wines he’ll bring.  Our philosophies match.  If the wine is fantastic and the food is perfect, they go together.  As was the case this evening. He’d brought six bottles from Domaine de Ribonnet, gorgeous, full-bodied yet delicate wines from near Toulouse.  Organically produced, carefully made, they were “petits merveilles.”

You can watch the episode.  You’ll feel like you’re right there.  And you can be, with many of the same cast of characters. Please, come live the experience!

And here is the Chicken with Shallots and Apples.  Bear in mind this recipe has been made and loved, but it may need some tweaking. If you make it and have comments please tell me!

Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
This is a gorgeous and very simple recipe that you can make for a cozy family dinner, or even when the boss comes over. It’s impressive and deeply flavorful, dramatic to present, delicious to enjoy! ASTUCE: I suggest stuffing the chicken with either an orange or two clementines, but you don’t have to. I love the slight additional flavor they add, and their juice squeezed over the chicken right before serving, but I promise this dish is fabulous without them too. The vinegar poured over the chicken adds a touch of welcome acidity to the sauce and crisps up the skin too.
Servings: 4 servings
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 orange or 2 clementines cut in quarters – optional
  • 2 fresh bay leaves (Laurus nobilis) or imported dried bay leaves
  • 1 3-1/2 to 4 pounds; 1-3/4-2kg chicken
  • 3 cups;750ml water
  • 6 ounces;180g shallots peeled, kept whole
  • ¼ cup;60ml best quality red wine vinegar
  • 4 medium tart apples peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup;10g flat-leaf parsley leaves gently packed,
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).
  2. Salt and pepper the cavity of the chicken. Stuff the citrus fruit, if using, into the chicken along with the bay leaves. Truss the chicken so it cooks evenly, then place it in a roasting pan. Pour 1 cup (250ml) water around the chicken and place the chicken in the center of the oven to roast for 30 minutes, checking after about 15 minutes to be sure there is water in the pan. Add additional water if necessary.
  3. Add the shallots to the pan, shaking the pan to roll them in the liquid in the pan, and return to the oven to continue roasting the chicken until juices run from the thigh joint when it’s pierced with a sharp knife, an additional 25 to 30 minutes. Check on the chicken occasionally to be sure that there is plenty of water in the bottom of the pan and add additional if necessary.
  4. About 10 minutes before the chicken is roasted, pour the vinegar over the chicken. When the chicken is roasted, transfer it to a cutting board that collects juices, setting it its breast so the juices run into the breast meat. After 10 minutes, right the chicken onto the back.
  5. Add the apples to the pan with the shallots, shake the pan so the apples are covered with liquid, and drizzle the olive oil over the shallots and the apples. Season lightly with salt and pepper and put in the oven to roast until the shallots are caramelized and the apples are tender, about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice and making sure there is enough liquid in the pan, so the juices don’t burn.
  6. Cut the chicken into serving pieces. If you’ve used citrus, squeeze it (using tongs – it will be hot) over the chicken.
  7. Remove the shallots and apples from the oven.
  8. Mince the parsley and add it to the apples and the shallots, stirring and shaking the pan so that everything is combined. Spoon the apples and the shallots over the chicken, drizzle the juices overall and serve, with plenty of bread alongside for sopping up the juices!


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