There’s just something so nice about catching the bus or train and having it transport you to another destination. I love that the bus/rail system in Europe is so easy to navigate. The USA could learn a thing or two about public transport from Europe! When we made last minute plans in 2018 to visit Lille there wasn’t any worry about long lines at security or a crazy layover. We just purchased our tickets, hopped on the bus and we were on our way from Bruges to Lille in about an hour. Easy peasy.
Known as the capital of French Flanders, Lille has an incredible history. European nations have fought over Lille’s strategic location for centuries and it didn’t become fully French until the late 17th Century. Lille was besieged so many times that it’s difficult to keep track! This little city had been on my list of French destinations for some time so when Andrew mentioned that he wanted to scoot back to France for the World Cup I suggested Lille.
That’s right we were in France for the World Cup 2018! The airbnb that we stayed in was in a cute little square so we were right in the middle of the action. It was crazy fun even if I did end up with my first ever black eye. A rogue, unopened beer can went flying during the excitement and popped me right on the face. It was a Leffe Blond beer can to be exact, those things are not small! It didn’t ruin my good time though and made for interesting conversations for the rest of our trip. Oh and fun fact: You cannot walk into a pharmacie and buy acetaminophen (Tylenol) in France without a prescription. Make sure you always travel with the pain meds that you may need!
Lille has beautiful architecture and you notice a difference right away between it and other French cities. Being a northern French city, it contains many Flemish style buildings and red brick structures, which are uncommon in other areas of France. Vieux Lille has picturesque cobblestone streets, cute squares, colorful facades and delicious food. This is where the “Lille potatoes” come from. I have no idea what they are really called but they are delicious. We have been trying to recreate them since I had this fantastic cheesy chicken baked potato at La Pate Brisee. We have come pretty darn close with our latest creation. The cheese isn’t as bubbly and brown as the one I had in Lille but that is alright with me.
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- 4 baking potatoes, we like Russets
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- ¼ cup crème fraiche
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 bunch of poultry herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme)
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Raclette style swiss cheese, such as Gruyere sliced thin.
- Preheat your oven to 425F and set your Immersion Circulator temp to 150F. Create either a vacuum sealed bag with a food saver or get out an appropriate sized ziploc bag.
- While your water heats, make your butter. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream with a dash of salt in your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Once you start to see stiff peaks add in your herbs and continue to mix until you have a nice solid butter. Remove from the buttermilk and give it a rinse under cold water.
- Salt and pepper the chicken thighs on both sides, top with your fresh herb butter and add the chicken to your prepared bag. Seal your bag.
- Cook chicken for 1 hour in the hot water bath.
- Give the Russets a few pokes with a knife and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour.
- Let your chicken rest for 15 minutes and then cut into small chunks. Reserve the cooking juices.
- Remove potatoes from oven but keep your oven on. Allow the potatoes to rest until cool enough to slice open. Season with salt and pepper.
- While potatoes are cooling, combine your reserved juices and the ¼ cup crème fraiche in a small pot. Stir over medium heat until slightly thickened. About 5 minutes.
- On a baking sheet, top each potato with ¼ of your chopped chicken, about a tablespoon of your crème fraiche mixture, and a slice of cheese. (You will have some crème fraiche mixture left over, you can top your potato with additional before serving if you want)
- Place your potatoes back in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on the cheese! You want it melty, but not so melty that it gets all over your pan. If you want some extra brownness you can turn your broiler on for a few minutes as well.
- Serve this delicious baked potato with a side salad, green beans or broccoli. Enjoy!
Do you have a meal that you’ve had while traveling that you’ve tried to duplicate? Tell me all about it!