Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Au maison de grands-mère

When I went over to my French grandma's house last Saturday and heard she was making this dish, I couldn't wait to dig in. Because Denise...who in actuality is neither French nor any sort of familial relation...had spneding the day channeling her inner grand-mere. This is the kind of steaming plate of goodness you'd want to tuck into at some Alpine mountain bistro, where a fire is roaring in one corner, bottles of wine are spread around, and large tureens of this chicken in white wine sauce are waiting your consumption. The rich, mushroomy sauce with the chicken cooked in it was fabulous served over small rectangles of baked puff pastry, a really nice presentation that I highly recommend you copy!

Wine recommendations: in keeping with the French feeling this inspired, I brought along a 2003 Joseph Drouhin Chorey-Les-Beaune which was elegant pinot noir personified, as only the French seem to be able to do. Even better was a bottle I brought from the wine shack, a 2004 Rabasse Charavin "Les Cailloux" Cotes du Rhone Villages (whose winemaker is the divinely named Corinne Couturier), its peppery blackberry and earth flavors matching up beautifully with the mushrooms and rich sauce. This was a classic southern French red that knocked everyone out. Great stuff! We also worked our way through an earthy, character-filled 2004 Martin Codax Rioja "Ergo" that was earthy and spicy, just like I like 'em! Oh, sure, you could go with a white....a rich St. Veran or Meursault from Burgundy would be my pick. But in this French fantasy I was living... il est, bien sur, vin rouge toute la soirée!
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Denise said this recipe looks complicated, but really isn't and actually took less time than yesterday's truffled potato app.

Chicken in White Wine Sauce a la della Santina / Pelissier (grandma)
Serves 6

12 pieces of chicken on the bone, trimmed of excess fat, skin left on. 2 to 1 dark to white proportion, I omit backs and wings, and cut half breasts in half again.
5 cloves of crushed garlic
Flour for dusting (I keep mine in a big shaker)
Olive oil for frying
Pat of butter for frying (Dad uses more butter than oil; I just use a little)
1 large onion sliced thinly, or 2 medium onions
1 to 1 1/2 pounds white mushrooms cut in quarters
2 1/2 cups (?!) white wine, sharp/tart, non-oaky, cheap
1-2 T dijon mustard
1 small jar capers with juice
1/2 cup sour cream & 1/4 cup whipping cream (optional) or 3/4 cup creme fraiche. More if sauce is thin / tart, less if thick / mellow.
Salt and Pepper
Large pinch herbes de provence or thyme
1 package thawed (takes 1 hour to thaw) Pepperidge Farm puff pastry (1 sheet yields 6 rectangles) or patty shells
Rub chicken with crushed garlic, salt and pepper, dust with flour (this is how I prep ALL my braised meats)
Fry in a medium hot pan with olive oil to brown skin / sear, maybe 10 minutes?; do in batches if necessary. Remove.
Add a little butter to to the oil / chicken fat mixture and saute onions, crumble in herbs and a pinch of salt
Add mustard and wine, scrape bottom of pot, and boil down a bit until the alcohol smell dissipates (10 minutes?)
Add chicken pieces to pot (hold out breasts); liquid should cover 2/3rds of the chicken. Add more wine if it doesn't, and cover.
Simmer gently for 30 minutes, add breasts, mix and check liquids, should come up at least halfway up chicken, cover for another 15 minutes. If you don't use breasts, you can just dump in the rest of the ingredients now.
Add capers (1/2 to whole small jar) and caper liquid to taste. More if it needs to be tart, less if already salty and / or tart.
Preheat oven to 400, bake 6 rectangles of puff pastry for about 15 minutes.
If you're shy of liquid, add raw mushrooms to pot, salt lightly, and mix in. If there's a lot of sauce or it's really thin, saute mushrooms separately and add when sealed. To "seal": heat pan to high, add a little olive oil, add mushrooms to hot pan and don't touch! Flip or stir before they burn, and then leave alone again. Not touching them will stop them from giving off water. When almost cooked, lightly salt and add to chicken.
Add cream / sour cream / creme fraiche, reduce heat so it simmers slowly but doesn't boil. Correct salt. Can sit this way for 30 minutes; if longer just turn off the heat and let it sit. Warm up gently.
Cut cooked puff pastry in half horizontally, put half on the plate, cover with chicken and sauce, top, add more sauce and garnish with parsley.
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one year ago today @ E.D.T.: speaking of my French grandmother, comfort food, and chicken, you have to try this Alsatian Chicken in Riesling!


dds said...

Good God man...post a disclaimer that I have no idea if these proportions are correct! Every measurement should be taken with a grain of salt. (Or is it a tablespoon of salt? no idea! that's the problem!)

bb said...

I think people can figure these things out, don’t you? I think you left plenty of wiggle in your proportions. Hey everybody....this isn’t rocket science: use your tastebuds!!