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OK: I had to learn to cook this Belgian dish because of its great name, (Gentse waterzooi van kip). It turns out to be worth the effort. I reduced butter a little, the cream adds plenty of richness. How about a tomato or fruit salad, some good bread or boiled potatoes on the side for the sauce, and a nice dish of something green for the vitamins?

I learned in 2005 from a rather irate Belgian food purist that this dish originated as a seaside fish stew bearing little resemblance to this creamy recipe. All I can say is, the chicken version is widely known in Belgium and is delicious.

Waterzooi: A Creamy Chicken Stew

4 large servings

You can prepare this ahead, up to the point where you reheat to add the cream.

1 6-pound stewing hen or capon (or 2 3-pound fryers), cut into serving pieces, with giblets
1 tablespoon butter
5 leeks, cut in big chunks
5 celery stalks, cut in big chunks
2 carrots, cut in big chunks
2 onions, peeled and stuck with 2 cloves each
Bouquet garni of
6 sprigs parsley
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
10 peppercorns
1 bay leaf (wrap these in tin foil and pierce all over with a fork)
8 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
juice of 1 lemon
4 egg yolks or two egg yolks and 2-3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 lemon, sliced into 4 thin slices
2 tablespoons minced parsley


Saute onions, leeks, celery, and carrots in butter with 1/4 cup chicken stock added to keep the vegetables from sticking, for 5-10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. Rub the chicken pieces with butter, then for 20 minutes, turning often. You can also brown under the broiler , 4-5 inches from the heat. When lightly browned, put in a kettle with the giblets, and all the rest of the ingredients except for the lemon juice, egg yolks and cream. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or more (25-40 minutes for fryers), until the chicken is tender.

Remove chicken and giblets from the broth and cool. Throw out the bones and skin.

Strain the broth and skim off the fat. (If you're not serving immediately, you could put the broth in the freezer to make the skimming easier.) Return broth to kettle and stir in the lemon juice.

When ready to serve, cut the chicken in big chunks and mince the giblets. Bring the broth to a simmer, then add the chicken and giblets and return to kettle. If you are using flour, beat it in now. Heat through, covered, for 5 minutes.

While it is heating, beat the eggs and cream together, then beat a cup of the simmering broth into the egg cream and whisk the whole mixture back into the kettle. Simmer at very low heat for 2-3 minutes so it will thicken without curdling.

Ladle into deep soup plates, then float a thin lemon slice, sprinkled with parsley, in each one. Serve with boiled potatoes as a main course.