Bresse Chicken, also known as Poulet de Bresse, are chickens with an AOP status. To be called Bresse, the chickens must be of the Bresse breed, and raised in the historic region and former province of Bresse, in Eastern France.
With their mostly white feathers, blue legs, and single red comb, their colors are reminiscent of the French flag. The Bresse chicken is highly aromatic, with a skin that is light and thin. And the flavor is like nothing else: unique, buttery, sweet-ish. Its meat is rich, delicious, and tender—truly a class of its own.
The best way to cook the Poulet de Bresse is to slow-roast it in an oven with some carrots and onions. Very simple, but just the perfect way to truly savor the incredible flavor this chicken has.
Another popular way to cook it is the Poulet de Bresse with Cream and Morel Mushrooms. This recipe by Paul Bocuse is easy to follow.
Poulet de Bresse got its Appellation D’Origine Contrôlée (AOC or AOP) in 1957. It is touted as the best chicken in the world.
There are very strict guidelines on how to raise them, and certifications are provided to farmers who pass the regulations. They must only be bred and raised in Bresse in Eastern France. The chickens must be kept free to roam—or freerange, for at least four months. And each chicken must have an area for themselves of at least 10sqm. They can only be fed corn from the region, as well as wheat and milk. The rest of their diet consists of native insects that they forage in the fields when they roam. There are controllers that visit and check at irregular schedules to ensure that all the rules are being adhered.
So incredible is this chicken, that it’s been revered by top chefs and critiques from all over. It’s title of “queen of chickens,” comes from famed gastronome, Jean Brillat-Savarin, who was allegedly quoted to describe the Bresse as “queen of poultry, the poultry of kings.”
Store your uncooked Bresse chicken on a low shelf in the refrigerator. Consume within 48 hours.