The Volailles de Bresse PDO are fowls obtained by poultry from Gallus species, Gauloise or Bresse breeds, Blanche variety. They are characterised by blue legs, white feathers and red comb.
The production area of Volailles de Bresse PDO covers 275 municipal areas of the departments of Ain and Saône-et-Loire and a part of the Jura, in the regions of Rhone-Alps, Burgundy and Franche-Comte.
One of the peculiar features of the Volailles de Bresse PDO is the diet used during the raising phase. Indeed, thanks to the reduction of hexogen protein substances, the poultry is encouraged to nourish itself autonomously with the food found in the grassy areas where it stays for many hours during the day. This causes a very slow growth with high advantages for quality. The poultry receives, anyway, a complete nutrition which includes maize, cereals, and dairy products. The analysis of the Bresse ground started in 1924 by the agronomy-engineer Louis Duc and underlined a lack of limestone which helps to maintain the thin skeleton of Bresse winged animals, with great advantage for the development of flesh. The minimum age for slaughtering is 16 weeks for chickens, 20 weeks for pullets and 32 weeks for capons.
Appearance and Flavour
The production area of Volailles de Bresse PDO covers 275 municipal areas of the departments of Ain and Saône-et-Loire and a part of the Jura, in the regions of Rhone-Alps, Burgundy and Franche-Comte. Volailles de Bresse PDO's weight spans from 1.3 kg for chickens to 1.8 kg for pullets and up to 3 kg for capons. The flesh is white and tender with fat veins.
The most ancient documents go back to the origins of Volailles de Bresse PDO and can be found in the municipal registers of Bourg-en-Bresse city, dated back to the 12th November 1591. They confirm the donation of two dozens of fat capons, a present of the population to the marquise of Treffort as appreciation for the departure of Romans from the city, to confirm as already at that time the practise of fatting was perfectly known. Later, there are numerous mentions which refer to capons in the city archives and in the leases, as they were considered a guarantee for financiers. From the 18th century, a growing use of poultry breeding and capon fatting was registered as well as pullets in the geographic production area.
The Volailles de Bresse PDO can be conserved for a few days in the refrigerator, wrapped into the purchasing paper and stored in the coldest compartment. This poultry with precious fowl is used to prepare refined dishes and can be cooked in different ways depending on the cut chosen. The traditional roast, whole or in slices, with or without stuffing is timeless as well as roasted capon accompanied by chestnuts roasted in its cooking sauce, a traditional Christmas dish. The fillets are very good seasoned with curry sauce.
The Volailles de Bresse PDO include different types of products, depending on the specific varieties of poultry of the denomination which are individually written on the package. They are marketed fresh and plucked, whole with or without head or in slices packed in trays with protected atmosphere. Only capons and pullets for Christmas are wrapped into a linen or cotton cloth to optimize their conservation and enable the fat to cover the entire animal.
The fame of the high quality fowl of Volailles de Bresse PDO is linked to the breeding practises and to the peculiar characteristics of the production area. It has been the first and it is still today the only farm poultry product to be certified of Controlled Designation of Origin, thanks to the certification of the French trademark AOC (CDO) in 1957.