Fred Berkmiller on Gartmorn Farm chicken

Fred Berkimiller on Scottish Chicken

The Larder: Chef's Choice

It’s not everyday a Frenchman will admit that non-Gallic produce rivals their own. Fred Berkmiller, of Edinburgh’s L’Escargot chain, on why Scottish Gartmorn chicken cuts it as an alternative to the famous authenticated Poularde de Bresse.

Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), or ‘authenticated source product’, is the French certification granted to certain French wines, cheese, butter and other food products, including Espelette pepper, Le Puy-En-Velay lentils and Roquefort cheese. The appellation exacts a very rigorous set of clearly defined standards.

Poularde de Bresse was awarded the AOC label in 1957 and since then has become a highly regarded product served at many famous tables throughout France and around the world. To qualify as a ‘poularde’ the hen must not have produced any eggs, must be a minimum of five months old, have white feathers and have spent at least three quarters of its life free-range. It also should weigh no less than 1.8kg, and have been fed on maize.

When I was contemplating the idea of serving Poularde de Bresse in my restaurant I went to my good friend Robin from Gartmorn Farm and asked him if he could give me a ‘poularde’ from his stocks.

The requested hens arrived and I cooked them the way they should be done, which is very slowly before being finished with sautéed Scottish girolles mushroom and creamed stock reduction. What a treat! It might not have been the real thing from home but its a very tasty, moist and extremely tender chicken.

We do not have a classification of produce in Scotland but if we start looking around us, what we have is probably just as good as the more famous equivalents – if not better in certain cases.

Fred Berkmiller and Betty Jourjon run L’Escargot Bleu and L’Escargot Blanc restaurants and own L’Escargot Epicerie in Broughton Street, Edinburgh, 0131 557 1600,

●Gartmorn Farm by Alloa produces free-range chicken, duck, turkey and guinea fowl, 01259 750549

A L'Escargot Blanc Restaurant & Wine Bar
17 Queensferry Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4QW
Above its own charming street-level bar, this West End bistro blends classic French cuisine with the best of Scotland’s larder.
B L'Escargot Bleu
56 Broughton Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3SA
Delightful Broughton Street bistro with good sourcing and a skilful kitchen fine-tuning familiar classics.

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