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Chef Paul Bocuse’s Poulet au Vinaigre Chicken in Vinegar Sauce and a virtual visit to Lyon, his hometown.

Chef Paul Bocuse’s Poulet au Vinaigre Chicken in Vinegar Sauce and a virtual visit to Lyon, his hometown.
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From a treasure trove of recipes, Food and Wine chose this as one of its best.

In 2018, Food and Wine Magazine named this recipe one of its 40 best of all time in its 40-year history. When I saw it, I was immediately drawn to it.  The chef who created this version was none other than one of the leaders in “Nouvelle Cuisine”, the “lightening up” of classic French cuisine.  And Chef Paul Bocuse was a native of Lyon, one of my favorite of all European cities. And it’s one of which is sadly overlooked and shouldn’t be.  Cooking this irresistible Chicken recipe with its bold flavor and freshness brought me right back to Lyon. And I couldn’t wait to revisit it.

Lyon is a City of Light and its great monuments are a testament to the incredible beauty of the city.

Paul Bocuse is no longer with us. His food forever will be.

Portrait of Paul Bocuse, one of the Masters of Nouvelle Cuisine

Paul Bocuse lived to be 91 years of age and died in 2018. So beloved in his native city,  an enormous portrait of him has been painted directly across from the astonishing Food Hall named for him.  Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse is worth exploring. It’s filled with great things to eat on the spot –from fresh oysters to some of the most intriguing pastries on earth. And you can eat your heart out Monday through Saturday from 7 am until 10:30 pm, Sundays until 4:30.  Since Chef Bocuse’s mission was to lighten French cooking, he was likely drawn to the extraordinary quality of produce in Lyon. Across the Rhone River to the Soane River from Les Halles is another phenomenal “marché”. The tomatoes for today’s recipe could well have come from there.

How “Nouvelle Cuisine” figures in Chef Bocuse’s Poulet au Vinaigre.

What Chef Bocuse did to lighten up this classic dish with its vinegar sauce was to replace tomato paste for tomatoes and reduce the butter content. So you have this dish with acid from the vinegar, the sweetness of the ripe tomatoes, and the velvety buttery smoothness of the sauce because although Chef Bocuse may have reduced its quantity there is still plenty of butter in the recipe.  I am giving you the recipe using a whole cut-up chicken but for the two of us, I used four thighs and followed the rest of the recipe to a T. You can skip right past our Armchair Travels for the recipe. Or you can follow us to Lyon, on the 3rd Anniversary of my discovery of this wonderful city and it’s out-of-this-world food.

Come with me to Lyon, The Gastronomic Capital of France.

No wonder Chef Bocuse used tomatoes in his recipe. Here is what he had to work with.

Three years ago, I went to Lyon covering a River Cruise, the link to which you’ll find further down the page. I had the good fortune to have a great friend living there. The family was ensconced in a great apartment right on the river.  Since they took advantage of every long weekend to see seemingly every part of Europe, I was left to my own devices. I mainly followed the suggestions of my friend, enjoying every minute. While I toured the town and marveled at its many sites, I will focus on the food here and leave you to your own devices and interests as you move about this glorious city.

The restaurants in Lyon owe their greatness to…their “Mothers”.

I was so taken with these radishes that I brought them back to the Okko to enjoy with great French butter.

Rotisseries in Lyon were forerunners of today’s restaurants. Run by Meres (Mothers in French) and their cooking philosophy could be summed up by the most famous of them all La Mère Fillioux. She was quoted as saying “It takes years of study and experience to serve a perfect dish. I have spent a lifetime perfecting five or six dishes.  I will serve only these, but I will do them perfectly.” This attitude was one I was to discover virtually everywhere I ate. The Lyonnaise love food and it shows.

Where to Stay in Lyon

Hotel Okko, 14 quai General Sarrail, 69006 Lyon France Tel: 011 33 4 28 00 02 50 https://www.okkohotels.com/en/page/lyon/.3097.html

Okko Hotel Lyon

At the time I wrote in Trip Advisor: The Okko is located in the city’s best residential area right on the banks of the Rhone. It’s perfectly positioned next to the Pont Lafayette to put Lyon’s premier neighborhoods within easy walking distance. But the real attraction here is the remarkable staff who simply cannot do enough for you. Or is it the superb public spaces–a comfortable lounge, wonderful breakfast area where you’ll find a great start to your day which turns into a perfect place for an evening aperitif. Be prepared for a superbly designed if small room; They lack for nothing except a place to stow your stuff. And your bathroom will be very much front and center. The heavenly shower more than makes up for that. Room tip: The rooms numbered 1 through 3 face the river. They cost a little more but you cannot beat the view morning or night.

I would have loved to buy a Rotisserie Chicken at the Marché and bought some of the potatoes cooked in their drippings.

Where to Eat in Lyon.

It’s almost impossible to eat badly in Lyon. From ‘haute cuisine’ to traditional dishes served in inexpensive bistros, there is overwhelming pride in every restaurant you visit. While I was there I went high and midrange and low.  And I only had one bad meal…at a large outdoor place in the old Gothic quarter of the city.

My one bad meal in Lyon.

Only when I returned home did I see the absolutely devastating reviews of the place on Trip Advisor.  Bouchon Lyonnais Chez at 14 rue St. Jean in Vieux Lyon was rated #1326 out of 1333 “French” restaurants and 2463 out of all 2,475 restaurants in Lyon.  Serves me right for not simply checking Trip Advisor before I sat down.

Much happier times and much, much better food was to be had.

French food with an Asian accent at Le Bijouterie
La Bijouterie, 16 rue Hippolyte-Flandrin, 69001 Lyon Tel: 04 78 08 14 03
[email protected]

For chic, modern inventive French fusion food with an Asian accent, you can’t beat this ‘jewel box’ of a restaurant right in the center of town for lunch or dinner. They have two prix fixe menus at lunch for 20E or 26 Euros. Dinner at 57 E.

Restaurant Jeremy Galvan Restaurant 29 rue du Boeuf, 69005 Lyon, France Tel : +33 4 72 40 91 47
Jeremy Galvin’s beautiful presentation.

In Old Lyon, this tiny intimate restaurant is a marvel of creative modern cuisine. Well worthy of its Michelin Star, the esoteric chef invites patrons on “Walks”.  These tasting menus range for 5 to 9 creations and in price from 69E to 109E. Wine pairings are additional.  While not inexpensive, this is truly fine dining.  You must reserve in advance.

Le Jean Moulin 45 rue de Sèze, Lyon, 69006 Tel : +33 4 78 37 37 97

If you are staying at the Hotel Okko, you can zip across the bridge to the other side of the Rhone to another jewel box of a restaurant.  If you sit upstairs you can enjoy the river view while dining on its excellent, modern French fare.  At 25 to 44 Euros, it’s an excellent value.

Le Neuvieme Art 173 Rue Cuvier, Lyon 69006, Tel : +33 4 72 74 12 74

It’s splurge time at this 2 star Michelin restaurant, one of the most highly thought of in all Lyon. Michelin says it best:  “Good news: Christophe Roure continues to propose the best! Subtle inventiveness, precise marriages of flavors, and an understanding of textures mark him out as an artist. Nor does he put a foot wrong in the fine wine list, with almost 400 types to choose from. A must.”  Expect to spend from 95E for lunch and 160E for dinner.

Les Apothocaires, Tabata and Ludovic.
Les Apothicaires 23 Rue de Seze, Lyon 69006  Tel : +33 4 26 02 25 09

The charming young couple at work here met in one of Paul Bocuse’s Lyon brasseries. Tabata, a young chef from Brazil and Ludovic Mey have partnered to create a cheerful, comfortable bistro where their creative menus offer a few Scandinavian and South American touches. This place is a treat. And well-priced at 29E to 59E for lunch and dinner, respectively.

My absolute favorite restaurant in all of Lyon was one I went back to twice.
Le Bouchon Sully 20 rue Sully, 69006 Lyon  Tel: +33 4 78 89 07 09

Nestled in the confines of one of Lyon’s most desirable neighborhoods, this traditional Bouchon is slightly out of the way.  Perhaps its position off the beaten tourist track, guaranties that the Lyonnaise would only patronize a restaurant of this quality.  The menu is resolutely well priced, especially for food of this caliber. I was so impressed, I went there twice. It requires a little travel from most hotels but it’s well worthwhile. You might think about tagging this on for lunch or dinner after a visit to the nearby Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse. It’s within easy walking distance.

For everything you could possibly want to know about Lyon, go to https://en.lyon-france.com/
And here is the recipe:

Chef Paul Bocuse's Poulet au Vinaigre -- Chicken in Vinegar

May 7, 2020
: 4
: 5 min
: 40 min
: 45 min
: Easy

One of the forty top recipes ever published in Food and Wine Magazine, this take on Chicken in Vinegar is a perfect example of Nouvelle Cuisine for one of its greatest proponents Chef Paul Bocuse.


  • 3 tablespoons clarified unsalted butter (see Note) or 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 4 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 1 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup mild white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 3/4 pound very ripe red tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Step 1 Preheat oven to 200°F. Heat clarified butter and garlic in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high. (The skillet should be large enough to hold all the chicken pieces in 1 layer.) Cook until the sound of sizzling butter has faded, about 3 minutes. Add chicken pieces, and cook until pieces are lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes, flipping once after 3 minutes. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Step 2 Add vinegar, and bring mixture to a brisk boil over medium-high
  • Step 3 Top chicken with tomatoes and parsley. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes, flipping chicken pieces after 7 minutes. Transfer chicken to a baking dish, and keep warm in a preheated oven.
  • Step 4 Using a spoon, skim and discard fat from surface of vinegar mixture in skillet. Continue to cook over low, undisturbed, until reduced by one-third, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove garlic cloves
  • Step 5 Peel cloves, and mash garlic pulp into the sauce with a wooden spoon until blended. Add salt to taste. Whisk in 2 tablespoons butter until creamy.
  • Step 6 Transfer chicken to a platter. Pour the sauce over chicken, and serve immediately.
  • Step 7 Notes: To clarify butter, melt unsalted butter (any quantity you like—it keeps well in the refrigerator) in a saucepan over very low heat until clear. Remove pan from heat, and allow melted butter to stand for a few minutes until solids settle to the bottom of the pan. If there is any foam, skim it off with a spoon. Carefully pour off and reserve the clear liquid, which is clarified butter.

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