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Martha Stewart’s Lobster-Chicken Hybrid Is a Real $250 Dish

Illustration by Hazel Zavala

Somehow, she's done it again. Martha Stewart set the internet ablaze this week by way of a chilling photo posted blithely to her personal Instagram. The photo, which has nearly 30,000 likes and thousands of horrified comments, shows a dish from an apparent meal at New York City’s Café Boulud: On a wooden serving board, strewn with decorative shells and strands of seaweed, sits a chicken that has somehow, through dark magic or culinary masterminding, merged with a lobster.

The chicken itself would look unremarkable, were it not for the lobster head poking out from its breast bone, claws that appear to be attached to the wings, and, perhaps most disconcertingly, a lobster's tail emerging from the hollow cavity at the back, curling up to meet the chicken's thighs. The effect is something that looks like an evolutionary accident or what would happen if a mad scientist had a little extra time on his hands.

As it turns out, the dish is none of those things. Though Martha innocently captions it as “roast chicken and lobster,” it is, in fact, the "poularde homardine, sauce nantua" at Café Boulud. It's listed on the restaurant's Maison Barnes menu, which is described as "French traditional cuisine, with luxury items" on its website. A note suggests the poularde homardine is large enough for three people, may take up to an hour to prepare, and costs $250. (Café Boulud hasn’t responded to questions for comment.)

The lineage of the poularde homardine is murky. A poularde is a chicken that's been aged 120 days and fed a fatty diet, often seen in French fine cuisine, and homardine refers to a lobster sauce. A lone Instagram post from 2018 from Alain Passard, the French chef of three Michelin-starred L'Arpege in Paris, shows something similar—a roasted chicken reclining on a plate, a lobster head and claws emerging from the rear cavity, as if the chicken were in the midst of giving birth to the lobster. It’s captioned, simply, "poularde homardine." Passard's plating isn't quite the same as Café Boulud's, but the thought process no doubt was: What if we shove a lobster inside a chicken.

As it always does, the internet came to my rescue in the end. As executive chef Romain Paumier explained to Slate, the dish “is a classic, but it’s usually made with crayfish.” The recipe, he says, uses every part of the lobster, but it was Paumier’s own creative flair that led to the unique plating—there’s technically no reason this dish should look so monster-like. The dish is essentially the French-est surf and turf imaginable: The chicken is cooked with the lobster head to infuse its briney flavor into the bird, and then the head is squeezed into a sauce used for the base of a lobster bisque. The lobster tail—you know, that thing poking out of the back of the chicken?—is simply poached and finished with butter. Easy! Simple! No fuss dining! A gloriously terrifying moment in the French culinary wave that we never asked for.


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Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit


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