Monday, August 10, 2009

french food i did not eat in france: for julia

[Thanks to Tom for making this photo less beige and much more appetizing.]

It's been quite a Julia-centric week, with the long-awaited premiere of Nora Ephron's Julie & Julia. I attended a screening of the movie last week. I won't get into my feelings about it here, but I will say that I obviously have a great love for Julia Child and all that she has done for food in America. Julia influences not just my attitudes about food and cooking, but my livelihood as well. So here is a small tribute to her, Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons, from her 1961 masterpiece "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".

Now, J-Cat does not like chicken breast. Actually I don't like it either, for the most part. But it appears that saucing your chicken breast with copious amounts of butter, cream, port wine, and mushrooms suddenly makes it the most delicious meat you can imagine. J-Cat inhaled his before I even had two bites. He then put extra sauce directly on rice and ate it straight. This sauce is crack. I took the liberty of using more mushrooms than the original recipe calls for, partially because I assumed that our giant American-raised chicken breasts would be monsters compared to what Julia had access to in Paris in the early 60's. I was right, as the cooking time was quite different. I would recommend either flattening the breast just to even them out, or using the smallest chicken breasts you can find. Recipe after the jump:

Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons
(Chicken Breasts with Mushroom and Cream)
From “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child (Knopf, 1961)

4 supremes (boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Big pinch white pepper
5 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot or green onion
1/4 pound diced or sliced fresh mushrooms
1/8 teaspoon salt
For the sauce:
1/4 cup white or brown stock or canned beef bouillon
1/4 cup port, Madeira or dry white vermouth
1 cup whipping cream
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons minced parsley

Rub the chicken breasts with drops of lemon juice and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a heavy, oven-proof casserole, about 10 inches in diameter until it is foaming. Stir in the minced shallots or green onion and saute a moment without browning. Then stir in the mushrooms and saute lightly for a minute or two without browning. Sprinkle with salt.

Quickly roll the chicken in the butter mixture and lay a piece of buttered wax paper over them, cover casserole and place in hot oven. After 6 minutes, press top of chicken with your finger. If still soft, return to oven for a moment or two. When the meat is springy to the touch it is done. Remove the chicken to a warm platter (leave mushrooms in the pot) and cover while making the sauce (2 to 3 minutes).

To make sauce, pour the stock and wine in the casserole with the booking butter and mushrooms. Boil down quickly over high heat until liquid is syrupy. Stir in the cream and boil down again over high heat until cream has thickened slightly. Off heat, taste for seasoning, and add drops of lemon juice to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

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