Bicycle Chicken

Burkina Faso

(Poulet Bicyclette)


1 MaggiTM chicken or vegetable bouillon cube*
2 tablespoons peanut oil or other oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
2 chicken breasts with bone and skin
2 chicken thighs with bone and skin
2 bay leaves
2 potatoes
2 red or green chile peppers
2 carrots
4 garlic cloves
2 medium onions
2 tablespoons butter

* = It’s way more authentic with a Maggi cube. Maggi rules western Africa.


baking sheet.
kitchen thermometer

Serves 4. Takes 1 hour 35 minutes.


Add Maggi cube to large mixing bowl. Crush Maggi cube. Add peanut oil, vinegar, pepper, and salt. Mix thoroughly with whisk or fork. Add chicken pieces. Turn chicken pieces until they are completely coated. Add bay leaves. Let marinate for 40 minutes.

While chicken pieces marinate, preheat oven to 390 degrees. Peel potatoes. Add potatoes and enough water to cover to them to pot. Boil potatoes on high heat for 20 minutes or until tender. Place chicken pieces on grill in oven. Place baking sheet under chicken to catch drippings. Cook at 390 degrees for 55 minutes or until no longer pink inside or the chicken’s temperature reaches 165 degrees. Turn chicken pieces over once.

While chicken pieces cook, seed chile peppers Mince carrots, chile peppers, garlic cloves and onions. Add butter, carrot, chile pepper, garlic, and onion to pan. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until garlic and onion soften. Stir frequently. Add a chicken piece to each plate. Top chicken with sautéed veggies. Surround chicken with potato slices.


1) There are many reasons why this dish is called Bicycle Chicken.

2) The chickens running about the streets in Burkina Faso look like they’re riding a bicycle.

3) The chicken vendors in Ouagadougu, the capital city, bicycle around the town with chickens hanging upside down from their bike’s handle bars*.

* = Do not confuse handle bars with Handle bars, which the great musical composer used to organize his written music in small sections.

4) People know chickens derive enjoyment from looking a bicycles. So whenever a bicyclist pedals past a hen, people will say, “Look, a bicycle, chicken.”

5) Would-be chicken vendors who are afraid to ride a bicycle are known as “bicycle chicken.”

6) The 1st grade textbook used in Ouagadougu’s grammar school has a picture of a bicycle on page one and a bicycle on the next page. The words are shown below the corresponding picture. So, the first words the country’s young learners learn to spell are bicycle and chicken. Walk by any 1st grade classroom first thing in the morning and you will hear the words “bicycle, chicken” spoken over and over.

7) Some very small dictionaries have the words bicycle and chicken next to each other. Don’t buy these books. They’re not of much use.

8) “Bicycle chicken” is spy code for “my cover has been compromised.” Oh dear, I compromised that code now, haven’t I?”

9) However, culinary etymologists* tend to believe that the phrase “bicycle chicken” derives from the world-renowned Le Tour du Poulet Burkinabé (LTDPB).

10) The muscular thighs of Burkina Faso’s chickens make them naturals for bicycle races.

11) Indeed, chickens are quite athletic when properly motivated. The longest recorded flight by a chicken is 301 feet. The chicken’s motivation remains unknown. At least, no one is talking.

12) Anyway, every May sees the LTDPB sees the chickens pedal like mad from Banforo toward Ougadougu.

13) Every August sees the chickens cross the finish.

14) The great popularity of the LTDPB has naturally spawned imitations such as the ones in Greenland*, Oregon, and Scotland.

15) * I’m sad to say, that this year’s Chicken Race Across Greenland (CRAG)has been cancelled due to inclement conditions. It’s best, anyway, to wait for and watch LTDPB on ESPN9(TM).

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.


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