Titanic’s Chicken Lyonnaise and…The Mechanic’s Family Pets

Dogs are ‘man’s best friend’.  I have two of my own and they are almost as precious as my children – almost!

But not everyone buys a dog for the purpose of bringing them in as part of the family.

Titanic’s Chicken Lyonnaise

Quite some years ago when Archie was three and Arabella even younger, Carl dropped our car off to be serviced at the mechanic’s workshop we had been going to for about five years.  We did not know it had recently changed hands.

Later that afternoon the mechanic phoned to say the car was ready to be collected.  All four of us clambered into my car for the 30 minute drive to the workshop.

When we arrived in the blazing hot western sun of a March afternoon, our car was no where to be seen.  We went into the office and asked for our car.  The mechanic (and new owner) came out and told us that after phoning to advise the car was ready they couldn’t get it to start.  He said they had taken it back down to the workshop and it would be ready in a few minutes.  Then he disappeared.  We stood around in the grotty office both holding on to a child.  After about half an hour of juggling the children and standing in a stinky room feeling like we were burning from the late afternoon sun, I suggested to Carl that we find someone, anyone, to ask when our car would be fixed.  Carl scouted around but could find no one.  I said, ‘Do you think they are down in the workshop?’

And Carl said, ‘I don’t know, I’ll go and see’.

Carl took Archie down the steep driveway to the workshop to see if he could find out what was happening.

About five minutes later Carl limped into the reception room, covered in blood and groaning.  His denim shorts were torn and Archie was as white as a sheet.  ‘What happened?’  I asked.

‘The dog, the dog bit me,’ Carl managed through plenty of grunts and groans.

‘What dog?’

‘The dog.  They’ve got dogs.’

‘Whose dogs?’

‘The mechanics, they’ve got Rottweilers.  One of them bit me.’

Then the mechanic stormed in as black as thunder and said, ‘You were told not to go down to the workshop.  What did you do that for?  I’ve got guard dogs for a reason.’  And he spoke with such aggression I feared Carl was going to be attacked for the second time that day.

Of course we hadn’t been told not to go down to the workshop.  And the mechanic was saying he had a sign in the reception area warning people not to enter the workshop but no such sign existed.

Carl could barely stand up.  I said to the mechanic, ‘Do you have any bandages?’  And he scrambled through a few cupboards and found a dirty band-aid that looked not only unhygenic but also completely inadequate.  I put the offending band-aid back on the counter and said, ‘I think I’ll have to take him to hospital, this looks pretty bad.’  The mechanic said he would bring the car up but I told him Carl would be unable to drive it with what looked like a huge chunk taken out of his thigh.  I said, ‘You’ll have to keep the car here and we’ll pick it up later.’

I drove Carl to the closest medical centre and on the way asked, ‘What happened?’

Carl had gone down the driveway with Archie.  At the bottom of the drive they saw two Rottweilers chained to a pole.  The dogs started barking and were looking quite vicious.  Carl and Archie did the dog-leg turn towards the workshop and noticed the dogs started running towards them.  Carl was unnerved but felt quite safe because they were on the end of a long chain.  But the female dog ran with such force that the chain snapped and she took a flying leap towards Archie’s neck.  Carl quickly grabbed Archie and held him high in the air.  The dog then sunk her jaws into the back of Carl’s thigh and buttock and wouldn’t let go.  Because Carl was using both arms to hold Archie in the air, he had no hands to defend himself.  The mechanic eventually realised his dog was now attached to Carl so he yanked on the end of the chain and after a rather painful tug, the dog released her jaws, enough for Carl to be freed.

Lyonnaise Chicken with Steamed Rice and Asparagus

The doctor said it was the worst dog bite he had ever seen.  The wound certainly needed to be stitched but because a dog bite is a very dirty wound it needs to be kept open.

We eventually got our car back and I had to drive Carl to the medical centre every day for the next 10 days for the wound to be cleaned and dressed.

The mechanic didn’t ever apologise, instead he phoned and abused me for the ‘damage’ we’d caused.  I was rather stunned as was sure Carl was the recipient of all the damage.

The wound healed with no infection and Carl is now fine, just a little weary of dogs, even if they are on the end of a long chain.

What do Rottweilers and the Titanic have in common?  Absolutely nothing.  But I couldn’t let today go by without acknowledging the centenary of the worst passenger liner disaster in history.  This recipe was served to First Class Passengers  the night the ship went down and has been included in a cookbook, RMS Titanic, Dinner is Served by Yvonne Hume.

Chicken Lyonnaise

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  I was out of cognac so substituted brandy.  Cognac in Australia starts at around $60/bottle so if a bottle needs to be purchased, this would be an expensive meal.

Served on Titanic, April 14, 1912

  • 30g plain flour
  • seasoning
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 70g butter and a splash of olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 30g tomato puree
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1 glass cognac
  • 20g sugar 50ml chicken stock

Place the flour and seasoning in a plastic bag add the chicken then coat the chicken completely.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the chicken and residual flour.

Fry the chicken until brown all over.  Remove the chicken from the pan and add the onions, cook until soft.

Add the chicken to the onions together with all of the other ingredients.

Cook gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Removed the chicken and set aside in a warm place.

Turn up the heat under the pan and reduce the sauce until the required consistency is reached.  Add a splash of boiling water if needed.

Season then serve the chicken topped with the sauce.

Serve with seasoned rice and steamed vegetables.

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  1. oh wow! what a story! we don’t have pets and I’m always scared of getting bit!

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  2. Amazing. In the US, the first inclination would be for the family to sue the mechanic. What a horrible man.

  3. Oh my goodness! That sounds so scary. I can’t even imagine. And I can’t believe the mechanic didn’t get in any trouble. Thank goodness Archie was safe. Kudos to Carl for holding him up like that. I get chills just thinking about it. The chicken looks delicious and I do have a bottle of Cognac sitting around which doesn’t get much use. 🙂

  4. wow! so beautiful and so delicious… I loved so much dear Charlie and also how you serve it, too. Thank you, with my love, nia

  5. Wow – here in the states the dog would have been put down. I hope you never went back. I like that your recipe has such few ingredients, but lots of alcohol:)

  6. Hi,
    OMG that is terrible, I would of definitely reported that to the police seeing how bad the bite was, it must of been terrifying and trying to keep the child safe as well. The mechanic would of been forced to put the dog down, seeing as how it broke the chain, a very ferocious dog indeed.

  7. Horrible story. Firstly the dogs should be quaranteened for rabies, even if they don’t have it it is an act that animal control does on behalf of the victim. Also, it should be reported to the police. How can someone have such vicious dogs and no warning sign and get away with it? I truly believe however that it is man that creates vicious dogs.
    Your chicken dish here looks like a perfect diversion from all that! Delicious post and I hope you are enjoying the weekend!

  8. I have cognac! SCORE!

    Now that I’ve got that out of the way…what in the world was WRONG with that shop owner??? I would have gone ballistic. But, I don’t handle emergencies well. Can’t imagine what I would have been like on the Titanic.

  9. A horrific story … what a brave and sensible hubby you have, saving your little boy and not further aggravating the situation in spite of the idiot garage owner.

    Although I don’t normally have either white wine or cognac in the house, I’m sure it would be a tasty dish. Perhaps sub in more chicken stock and a splash of white wine vinegar to get that same acid kick from the wine.

  10. Horrible story! I would certainly report this guy to the police.
    The chicken looks lovely though 🙂

  11. OMG! That’s a horrible story 🙁 I feel so sorry for Carl to have to go through that! But thank god Archie wasn’t hurt because being only 3, I can only imagine the damage that it’ll do to him 🙁 poor guy! I’m definitely going to be more careful of dogs even if they are on a lead!
    Did you guys sue the mechanic? You have every right to!!! I don’t like rude and obnoxious people like him!
    Thank gosh Carl recovered and it didn’t leave any permanent damage ~

  12. What a horrible person, the dogs are usually only a reflection of how bad their owners are…

  13. How awful! I’m a “dog person” and there is just no excuse for that. Had that happened here, today, the guy would have lost his dogs, to be sure, and may have lost his garage when you won your lawsuit. So glad things weren’t any worse than they were. Today’s recipe sounds good but I’m with you about using cognac. I do not enjoy drinking it and find it very expensive to use once in a while in a recipe. Like you, I substitute brandy for half the price — and the money saved goes towards a bottle that I do like! 🙂

  14. That story was so unnerving, I think I’ll be careful around dogs on chains myself, just to be on the safe side. Or I could console myself with this lovely chicken…

  15. OMG what a horrible story. Here in the US people would have definitely sued that shop owner. Those are mean dogs. My little chuhuahua would have been a goner. I would need the cognac just to calm down. Lovely meal, and Happy Sunday.

  16. My god! Poor Carl. He must have been terrified. There are some crazy people out there that’s for sure.

    Poor Titanic. Such an awful story and so sad that something like that (although thankfully on a much lesser scale) happened so recently.

  17. What crazy mechanics. These days customers would probably sue if they had that experience – and in this instance it may be one case where I’d welcome the shift to legalising everything! Dogs should be kept under control wherever they are and if they didn’t have a sign it is hardly for the customers to know. Fortunately you don’t refer to Carl as missing a leg or some such so I’ll figure that in this instance time healed his wounds and you found a new car servicing option 🙂

  18. I’m quite scared of big dogs and this would have been terrifying! 😮 I’m glad Carl is ok now but it sounded very serious 🙁

  19. Sooo, I’m thinking the new owner was using the workshop as a chop-shop and that’s why he was so upset at having you around there.. I sure wouldn’t be going back there again! Love your Titanic recipe:) I’m thinking I should commemorate the date.. but perhaps that “ship has sailed” lol!

  20. Hi there-
    Just wanted to let you know that I adore your blog and have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. You can read about it (and see what you need to do to “accept” it in my post here: http://zenandgenki.com/2012/04/16/its-raining-love-the-versatile-blogger-award-x-2-and-the-sheer-bliss-of-being-elmo/
    Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful perspective (and tasty goodies!) Have a great week!

  21. Wow that’s crazy that the mechanics even tried to play the blame game! I have a dog phobia for this reason and I’m convinced it’s because I must have bitten badly in my past life! My aunt used to have 2 Rottweilers as security and going over was always such an issue- I relied on every excuse under the sun !

  22. People will say why didn’t you sue…. but years ago we just didn’t really think of doing that …… its a long time since I have seen or heard of chicken Lyonnaise. A nice tasty dish to sink by!

  23. Charlie that is a dreadful story about the dog bite. Thank God Carl had the presence of mind to lift up the little one. You don’t mention if your medical expenses were covered by the dog owner/mechanic. They should be. And also you should be entitled to sue. I am very wary of the owners of chained dogs. ……and I do hope you find an awesome new mechanic! This recipe sounds wonderful. Shall definitely have to try it. Oh…I voted for you btw xx

  24. Gosh…can’t believe what I have read…amazing you stayed so cool facing that horrible mechanic.
    Your chicken Lyonnaise looks terrific!

  25. Ouchie! Poor Carl. I have always been weary of dogs – even some small ones!
    Scrumptious “last supper”.
    🙂 Mandy

  26. aww sorry to hear that. but im really phobic towards dogs, and cats as well

    Latest: World Best Sandwich 2012

  27. aww what a bad experience. i am afraid of dogs, as well as cats too!

    Latest: World Best Sandwich 2012

  28. Magnolia Verandah says:

    Yesterday in Melbourne was 27 thought it was warm enough for a swim – I was wrong the Titanic flashed through my mind. How cold would it have been to be in the icy water! A good drop of cognac may have kept them warm for a little while. This chicken dish sounds sumptuous.
    The least the mechanic could have done was pay the hospital bills or give you the car for nothing.

  29. The chicken looks so good; the sauce would make it extra special. (I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between cognac and brandy in the finished dish!)

  30. That’s absolutely horrific, Charlie. I would have called the police. Angela made the chicken lyonnaise and it was incredibly delicious – I will make it at home one day. It was a wonderful meal.

  31. I think it’s a lovely classic recipe, and and terrible story indeed! I’m suprised the mechanic didn’t fall over himself to help you- if not himself out of possible legal ramifications! Poor Carl and Archie!

  32. What an absolutely terrifying experience. I don’t trust any dog, even if the owner thinks otherwise. Former neighbors once had a Rottweiler that wandered into our yard several times. They said not to worry. Uh, huh.

    Our daughter was bitten last summer while on a walk in south Minneapolis by a dog whose chain reached to the sidewalk. Thankfully, the bite was minor. But I told her she needed to call the police because the dog should be quarantined. So she had to return and find the exact location of the dog’s home. The owner showed no care for my daughter, never apologized. Her dog was taken away for 10 days and rightfully so.

  33. This episode really is horrifying. Your family has had some truly harrowing encounters with dogs and dog bites! And once again no accountability from the owner. You are apparently pretty strong in an emergency…I think I might have fainted! I love the Titanic recipes…very nice to have! Debra

  34. What a horrible experience – it doesn’t really help now after the event, and it’s not really something you can do when you’re using both hands to hold a child aloft, but in case you ever get attacked by a vicious dog a good way of avoiding “damage” is to grab their back legs and lift. Just hang on like that and they won’t be able to jump up or bite you 🙂

  35. Unbelievable story!! Love that you included this recipe from the Titanic!

  36. I’m glad I can enjoy this dish now without having to experience what happened on the Titanic! LOL But the movie sure is a classic. 😉

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