Wednesday, 10 April 2013

French-style chicken

This dish is so very tasty, and makes a very special plate of food, but can also satisfy weekday meals as well as it can for special dinner parties!  For special occasions you can add some extravagant vegetables to serve with the chicken; for my weekday meal however, I served it with roasted carrots and new potatoes.  I could easily imagine a Cheffy-style pureed celeriac dashed in a designer fashion on the plate, with some baby vegetables to enhance the appearance of this dish.  The sauce is very tasty, and quite a dark colour (getting the colour from the de-glaze of the pan, this is good, so don't discard any of that crucial flavouring before you de-glaze.

The recipe below was sufficient for 3 persons, if you are cooking for more than 3 please adjust the quantities accordingly.

You will need:

  • 3 fairly large chicken breasts(skinless and boneless), each one cut from one side through to just about the other, but not quite through to the other side, and open it like a book, or like a butterfly!
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 6 mushrooms sliced (I used chestnut for their dark and earthy flavour)
  • A little olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons of creme fraiche
  • a couple of turns of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
For the sauce:

  • 75 ml vermouth (or good quality white wine, or Noilly Prat)
  • 60 ml chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon creme fraiche
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • half teaspoon of tarragon (dried is best)
  • half a teaspoon of honey
  • half a clove of crushed garlic
  • half a turn of freshly ground black pepper
  • a sprinkle of flour to thicken
Method for chicken:

1.  Cover the chicken breasts with cling film, and pound with a rolling pin to flatten slightly, taking care not to over-pound as they may break up, and you need them in one piece so that they can be rolled up
2.  In a saute pan, saute the sliced leeks and sliced mushrooms in the olive oil, until softened and the moisture has all but disappeared
3.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the mushrooms and leeks, and heat through, and stir to combine
4.  Pour the mixture into a food processor until smooth
5.  Spread the smooth leek and mushroom mixture over the surface of each chicken breast (you may have some left over.  If you have ensured you have not touched the leek and mushroom mixture with any utensil that has touched the raw chicken, then you could store the surplus in a container in the fridge for a couple of days.  This could be used to top jacket potatoes!)
6.  Carefully roll up each chicken breast with the mixture spread evenly, but thinly over the surface.  Once you have a tight roll (or as tight as possible without forcing the leek and mushroom mixture out of the ends), tie each roll with kitchen string to secure the roll whilst cooking
7.  Using the same pan you used for sauteeing the leeks and mushrooms, put each rolled chicken breast into the pan which should be hot with a little olive oil added to help brown the chicken breast rolls to a golden colour, turn frequently
8.  Once you have achieved a good colour all over each roll of chicken breast, remove from the pan (and remove pan from heat, but keep as you need the caramalised juices to make the sauce), and place the rolls onto a baking tray cover in foil and place in oven (180 C Fan) for approx 10 minutes whilst you make the sauce

Method for sauce:

1.  Pour the vermouth into the sautee pan, and over a moderate heat, stir the caramalised chicken bits from the bottom of the pan into the vermouth, it should now be changing colour to a rich dark gravy, although this will depend on how long you panfried the chicken for, and the depth of colour you achieved on the surface of the chicken; but remember that this is where the flavour will be packed into your sauce so do try to achieve a good colour on your chicken, which in turns leave a good colour on the bottom of your pan!
2.  Once the bottom of the pan is clean and smooth, and the sauce looks dark with bits of chicken mixed in, add the chicken stock and bring to boil, then turn down heat to a simmer
3.  In a small bowl or ramekin, mix together the creme fraiche, Dijon mustard, black pepper, garlic to a smooth paste, add a little of the heated vermouth and chicken stock to the ramekin and stir this in well into creme fraiche mixture, add this then to the pan of vermouth and chicken stock, mix well to combine
4.  Brink this to a boil, then reduce heat to a mild simmer, if the sauce is a little think and not really coating the back of a teaspoon, add a sprinkle of flour to help thicken slightly, but not too thick.
5.  Add the tarragon and honey, taste to see if the balance between sweet (from honey) and the savoury element is right, adjust as necessary
6.  Remove chicken from oven, remove string, and slice the chicken into thick slices onto a serving plate, and spoon the sauce over the top of the chicken, add the vegetable of your choice, and serve!

Photo's to follow!

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