I joked to friends that last week, when R. was out of town, I was going to make and/or eat all the “weird” food that I love and he doesn’t really eat. And I did: Thai, Ethiopian, fancy grilled cheese, random combinations of snacks–they were all ingested and thoroughly enjoyed. But I think my crowning glory was Julia Child’s chicken breasts with mushrooms and cream, which I was inspired to make after a recent re-watch of Julie & Julia.
I’ve had a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking for a couple of years now, but hadn’t actually cooked out of it until last Monday night; I think I was a little intimidated. But after watching the movie, I figured a chicken recipe wouldn’t be too hard to make, so I flipped through that section of the book and settled on supremes de volaille aux champignons. The dish came together so quickly and easily–seriously, chopping the shallots was the most time-consuming thing I did–and by the time the chicken was done, I was literally licking the sauce off my wooden spoon. It’s that good, you guys. (And if you don’t like mushrooms, there’s a mushroom-less version in the book that I’m sure is easily Google-able, if you’re interested; I’m going to make it for R. soon.)
In the meantime, here’s the recipe for the mushroom version. Make this, seriously. I know this is a strong statement, but I think it’s the best thing I’ve cooked all year.
Julia Child’s Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Cream
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ tsp. lemon juice
5 Tbsp. butter (I used salted, which I think was a good choice)
1 Tbsp. minced shallots
¼ lb. sliced white mushrooms
¼ cup chicken stock
¼ cup port wine
1 cup whipping cream
Parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Pat chicken breasts dry, then rub with drops of lemon juice and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Heat butter in a heavy, oven-proof Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet until foaming. Stir in the minced shallots and saute a moment without browning. Then stir in the mushrooms and saute lightly for a minute or two without browning. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Roll the chicken in butter mixture and cook for a few minutes, until slightly brown on both sides, then lay a piece of buttered parchment paper over them, cover Dutch oven and place in hot oven. Cook until chicken is done, checking after six minutes (it took closer to 20 for my chicken to be done, and I preheated the oven for awhile, too).
Remove chicken to a warm platter (leave mushrooms in pot) and cover while making sauce.
To make sauce, pour stock and port in the casserole with the cooking butter and mushrooms. Boil down quickly over high heat until liquid is syrupy. Stir in the cream and boil down again over medium heat until cream has thickened slightly. Off heat, taste for seasoning and add lemon juice to taste. Pour sauce over chicken, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.