Chicken Breasts with Red-Eye Gravy; a day with the Gendarmes

There are so many things wrong with this recipe that, if I didn’t live in the middle of nowhere, France, I would worry that the food police would be at my door.

I used chicken, not ham – so I had no ham fat to mix with the coffee.

I added mushrooms, chicken stock, paprika….

Actually, the only thing that remotely resembles the traditional southern version is the coffee.

And I probably got that wrong, too.

It’s the coffee that gives the name to the dish.

I use instant as I always have some on hand for caffeine emergencies. Leftover morning coffee works just fine – as long as it hasn’t been on the burner all day 😉

However wrong the recipe is the flavors are spot-on – and it’s ready in just 30 minutes.

Chicken Breasts with Red-Eye Gravy

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut in half
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2oz (60gr)  Prosciutto or bacon   2 – 3 slices, roughly chopped
  • 4oz (120gr) mushrooms, trimmed, sliced
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) strong coffee
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (2oz, 60ml) chicken stock
  • 2 tsp cornstarch (maizena) dissolved in 1 tbs water

Chicken with Red-eye Gravy


  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  • When hot add paprika and sauté briefly.
  • Add bacon or Prosciutto and sauté; 2 minutes for Prosciutto, 5 minute if using bacon.
  • Add mushrooms and sauté 4 minutes longer.
  • Move vegetables and bacon to the side and add chicken breasts.
  • Sauté 2 minutes per side.
  • Add coffee, stock and sugar, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 – 15 minutes or until chicken is done.
  • Remove chicken (put on a plate and cover with the lid from the pan) and increase heat.
  • Add cornstarch dissolved in water and stir until sauce is thick.
  • Pour  sauce over chicken and serve.

Print Recipe

Sometime, maybe I’ll try it with ham…..

My French class started a little late yesterday.

My teacher had to take her daughter to the Gendarmerie.

The Gendarmerie is where the Gendarmes have living quarters and their offices.

According to French law every French person has to spend one day at the Gendarmerie in the year that they turn 16.

Let me explain…..

There are two national police forces in France:

The Police Nationale is a civilian police force and primarily responsible for cities and urban areas.

The Gendarmes are a division of the French armed forces and are responsible for smaller towns, rural areas, airports, ports and military installations.

There are also local police in some areas with more limited responsibilities. It’s all rather complicated…..

As you drive through rural France you will note small and medium size towns have a Gendarmerie. All Gendarmes have an apartment in the Gendarmerie, although most live elsewhere, especially, if they have families.

Back to the 16 year-olds…..

They spend the day at the Gendarmerie learning about the French military, including the Gendarmes, getting a first-hand crash course in civic duty, learning about life in the barracks, getting a lesson in first-aid and CPR, etc.They have lunch at the barracks and even take a test of some sort.

It’s possible that there is a bit of recruitment going on as well….

Maybe they learn that impenetrable glare that I so often see on the faces of the Gendarmes – except the one that used to come to our conversations class.

She was a hoot!.

Last update on January 13, 2016

3 thoughts on “Chicken Breasts with Red-Eye Gravy; a day with the Gendarmes”

  1. Interesting about the day with the Gendarmes – I can actually see the point of that besides any recruiting aspect. One of our local Gendarmes is interested in vintage and classic cars as we discovered when he turned up in full uniform outside our kitchen door one day. All he wanted was to see our 3 wheeler!

  2. Gill, that would be a bit of a surprise – to have one at your door lol

    Kate, men and women, equally, The one in our group was a woman…. She was a hoot in her bullet-proof vest 😉

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