Friday, January 21, 2011

Chicken Breasts on a Bed of Wild Mushrooms by Tom

Chicken Breasts on a Bed of Wild Mushrooms

As Barbara mentioned in her last post, she has been a bit under the weather for the past several weeks.  As a result, I have been doing a lot of the cooking lately, which I enjoy doing. 

Driving back from Rochester the other day I was trying to think up a good, but simple, chicken recipe.  Several came to mind, but when I got home, I thought I would check a few cookbooks to augment my thinking. 

Several intrigued me, but the one that I chose came from "The Silver Palate Cookbook".  What struck me was the clever use of mushrooms with the chicken breasts. 

I pretty much stuck to the recipe (unusual for me!) and served the dish with sauteed spinach with shallots, and a baked potato. Turned out pretty good, especially the wild mushrooms.

   serves 6

1 cup lower sodium chicken stock
1 ounce dried mushrooms - I used 1/2 ounce morels and 1/2 ounce chanterelles
1/2 pound fresh wild mushrooms (Wegman's has a good blend of different wild mushrooms already    sliced and packaged)
4 tablespoons sweet unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup Port wine
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 boneless chicken breasts, skinned and halved

Before reconstituting the dried mushrooms, be sure to rinse them in cold water to remove any dirt.  Then bring the chicken stock to a boil and pour it over the dried mushrooms in a bowl.  Let stand for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Melt the butter in a skillet and then gently saute the shallots.  You want them to soften, but not to brown.  This will take about 5 minutes.

Drain the dried reconstituted mushrooms, but save the liquid.  You will use it shortly.  Chop up the reconstituted mushrooms and add those along with the fresh mushrooms to the shallots and butter mixture in the skillet.  Saute this mixture for about 10 minutes.  Saeson with salt and pepper.

Add the reserved mushroom soaking liquid, along with the Port wine and heavy cream.  Simmer this mixture for about 15-20 minutes until it thickens slightly and the liquid has been reduced by about a third to half.  This will intensify the flavors.

Spoon the mushroom mixture into the bottom of a shallow baking dish that has been sprayed with PAM to minimize sticking.  Place the chicken breasts on top of the mushrooms, cover, and bake until finished.  Depending on the thickness of the chicken breast, this will take anywhere from 30 - 50 minutes as you are cooking at a relatively low oven temperature.  Check the chicken with a meat thermometer.

Chef Tom's note:  Here is where I would deviate from the recipe if I was making this again, which I probably will!  I think I would brown the chicken in a skillet prior to putting it on the mushroom mixture.  The baked chicken does come out looking a little anemic.  So if for no other reason than appearance, I would brown the outside a bit.  Also it will speed up the overall cooking time in the oven.

To make the sauteed spinach I used fresh spinach.  I had about 1/8 cup of shallots left over, so I decided to use them in the spinach.  I sauteed them in about a tablespoon of butter for 4 minutes in a small skillet.  Then I added the fresh spinach carefully, and cooked it down with the cover on the skillet.  I stirred the mixture a couple of times while cooking and added some salt and pepper to taste.  Cooking spinach to a wilt only takes a few minutes, so watch carefully.

The chicken is good, but what really makes this meal are the mushrooms.  I might even find other uses for them with other meats and poultry they were that good.

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