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Monday, November 28, 2011

Chicken Breasts in a Port Wine Mushroom Cream Sauce

This recipe is also known (by the Julia Child types) as Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons, but I'm not sure I can pronounce that.  It is adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Knopf, 1961). 
Now those of you who know me, know that I do not do mushrooms.  Period.  Well.... I happened to just have spent a wonderful vacation week in Mazatlan, Mexico that culminated with a wonderful brunch buffet that had this divine smell coming from one of the dishes.  I absolutely knew that there were mushrooms in there, but could not help myself.  The sauce smelled absolutely out of this world - and it was.  And the chicken was SO tender.  Yes, I went back for seconds.  So you know that I had to come home and attempt to recreate the recipe.  This Julia Child recipe seems to be the closest to what I experienced, and also the most highly regarded.

Interestingly, most chicken recipes require searing first to develop the flavor.  This one does not.  It's actually sort of fool proof (with the addition of the digital thermometer), since it only requires that the chicken be gently nestled among the mushroom and butter sauce before popping it into the oven.  Because it is not seared first, the flesh of the chicken is super tender, and the flavor comes largely from the fragrant sauce.

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (Julia Child calls these supremes)
Juice of 1/2 large lemon
Kosher salt
Black pepper
6 tablespoons butter
1 Tbsp finely minced shallot
1/2 container (about 4 oz) diced fresh baby white button mushrooms

For the sauce:
1/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp aged port wine
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp freshly minced parsley

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
While you are chopping the shallots, enlist the help of one of your favorite people to clean the gook off of the mushrooms.  Those babies are quite dirty when you get them from the supermarket!  Then cut off the stems and chop them as fine as you would like.
 

Generously paint the chicken with lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
 
 
So here, you can see I have my mise en place* prepared ahead of time.  You don't want your delicate shallots to overbrown or burn while you take the time to clean and chop the mushrooms! This is an important aspect of the dish...have everything ready!  (*see Food Nerd Notes below recipe.)
Heat the butter in a heavy dutch oven (I used my Le Creuset cast enamel dutch oven) until foamy.  Stir in the minced shallots and saute a couple of minutes, but without browning.
 
 
Stir in the mushrooms and saute lightly for a minute or two, again without browning. Sprinkle with salt.
Turn the chicken around in the butter mixture and then gently cover the chicken with the mushrooms and butter.
 
Insert a digital meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken and  cover with the lid.  Place the pot in the preheated oven. You really want the thermometer to read about 155* degrees F.  This takes around 20 - 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. (*see Food Nerd Notes following recipe.)

When the chicken reaches the desired internal temperature, remove them to a warm platter and cover to keep warm.  The mushrooms will stay in the pot, as we will use them to make the sauce.

To make sauce, first, pour the beef stock into the pot on high heat and cook along with the butter and mushrooms until reduced and thickened.
 Next, add the wine and repeat, cooking until thickened.
 Repeat the process with the heavy cream and cook until slightly thickened and syrupy.
Adjust seasonings to taste, adding additional salt, pepper and remainder of the juice from the half lemon.

Finally, add the port wine sauce and cook only a minute or so more.  THIS is what makes this sauce SO spectacular!!
 
 Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and serve immediately.
The resulting produce is a wonderful dish of tender, juicy chicken blanketed by a delicately perfumed sauce of the port wine - a warm, almost nutty aroma.  That said, this is a rich dish, so I recommend serving it with something that is NOT rich.  We had it with roasted fingerling potatoes and a mix of green and white asparagus, also roasted, with freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.


Written Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
While you are chopping the shallots, enlist the help of one of your favorite people to clean the gook off of the mushrooms.  Those babies are quite dirty when you get them from the supermarket!  Then cut off the stems and chop them as fine as you would like.Generously paint the chicken with lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. You don't want your delicate shallots to overbrown or burn while you take the time to clean and chop the mushrooms! This is an important aspect of the dish...have everything ready!  (*see Food Nerd Notes below recipe.) Heat the butter in a heavy dutch oven (I used my Le Creuset cast enamel dutch oven) until foamy.  Stir in the minced shallots and saute a couple of minutes, but without browning. Stir in the mushrooms and saute lightly for a minute or two, again without browning. Sprinkle with salt. Turn the chicken around in the butter mixture and then gently cover the chicken with the mushrooms and butter. Insert a digital meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken and  cover with the lid.  Place the pot in the preheated oven. You really want the thermometer to read about 155* degrees F.  This takes around 20 - 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. (*see Food Nerd Notes following recipe.) When the chicken reaches the desired internal temperature, remove them to a warm platter and cover to keep warm.  The mushrooms will stay in the pot, as we will use them to make the sauce. To make sauce, first, pour the beef stock into the pot on high heat and cook along with the butter and mushrooms until reduced and thickened. Next, add the wine and repeat, cooking until thickened. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding additional salt, pepper and remainder of the juice from the half lemon. Finally, add the port wine sauce and cook only a minute or so more.  THIS is what makes this sauce SO spectacular!! Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and serve immediately. The resulting produce is a wonderful dish of tender, juicy chicken blanketed by a delicately perfumed sauce of the port wine - a warm, almost nutty aroma.  That said, this is a rich dish, so I recommend serving it with something that is NOT rich.  We had it with roasted fingerling potatoes and a mix of green and white asparagus, also roasted, with freshly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.

Food Nerd Notes:
Mise en place. The Culinary Institute of America defines the French phrase Mise en place (pronounced [miz on plas], literally "putting in place") as "everything in place," as in set up. This concept is used in both professional as well as home kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients (e.g., cuts of meat, relishes, sauces, par-cooked items, spices, freshly chopped vegetables, and other components) that a cook will require for the menu items that he or she expects to prepare.
A great tip is to thoroughly review your recipes to check for necessary ingredients and equipment. Have  your ingredients measured out, washed, chopped, and placed in individual bowls. Equipment, such as spatulas and blenders, are prepared for use, and ovens are preheated. Preparing the mise en place ahead of time allows the chef/cook to cook without having to stop and assemble items, which is desirable in recipes with time constraints.

Chicken temperature.  Many experts recommend that chicken breast meat must be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 - 170 degrees F. You will have moister chicken if you cook to 160 degrees F. Remember that the meat will continue to cook after it's removed from the heat.  The internal temperature will rise about 5-10 degrees in the first few minutes it's off the heat. That is why I recommend setting your temperature alarm for 155 degrees F.  This will allow the continued temperature rise to the appropriate temperature, but not overcook the meat, which would dry it out.  Also, you will be putting the chicken back into the hot sauce, which will also increase the temperature.

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait til' I have time to try this recipe its all my favorite foods and condiments rolled into one. Thanks for posting!!!

    ReplyDelete

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