Search This Blog

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Creamy Tarragon Chicken - a Gutsy Cooks Selection

I'm getting very far behind in both my French Fridays and Gutsy Cooks posts, and I'm going to be gone for a few weeks, so I'll just have to resign myself to being in permanent catch-up mode. But when I saw that Monica had added a chicken tarragon dish, I couldn't resist. I love creme fraiche, and I love fresh tarragon. The chicken is just a vehicle for the sauce.

Jim is not a big fan of skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts. He likes flattened cutlets--less chance of biting into bone or tendon. But I followed the recipe, got two large breasts from Whole Foods, and cut them in half.

I browned the shallots in the butter-oil mixture, even though the recipe just has them cooking in broth. Which sounds better, poached shallots or browned shallots? I thought so too.

After the chicken is browned, it simmers in a mixture of white wine and chicken broth for about 25 minutes. Then the chicken is plated, the sauce is reduced--and it's time to add creme fraiche and lots of chopped tarragon. If you don't like tarragon, this probably doesn't sound good.

Unlike sour cream, creme fraiche doesn't curdle when you use it in a sauce. It also tastes even better than either sour cream or whipping cream, so you've gotta love it. It's kind of expensive, which you don't gotta love.

And then the sauce is poured over the chicken, and dinner is served. You can make a salad, vegetable, potatoes, rice, salad--whatever strikes your fancy--during the 25 minutes the chicken is simmering in its sauce. I made steamed carrots and orzo--plenty of sauce to flavor the orzo as well as the chicken.

I could eat a cup of this sauce at a time. But I didn't. There are leftovers for my Saturday lunch, which makes me happy. You can get the recipe right here.


Jim: "I'll give it a 7. I liked the sauce, but I thought the chicken was just okay. It didn't really pick up the flavors of the sauce, and it was too thick." (I knew he wouldn't like those fat chicken breasts with the bone still in).
Marie: "I can't believe you're just giving it a 7. It's an easy 9, maybe 9 and 1/2. The sauce is delicious!"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Garlicky Crumb-Coated Broccoli - French Fridays with Dorie

It's always good to have another broccoli recipe, but I'll have to say that this one didn't turn out to be as exceptional as I was hoping. Good, but not great. And, because it requires full-time attention just before serving, it may be difficult to work into a menu.

I started off with some fresh-looking organic broccoli. Sometimes "organic" seems worth the splurge; sometimes not. Here, despite the garlic breadcrumbs, I figured I'd want the best broccoli I could get. In the summer, I'd get it at the Farmers' Market. In April, I'll settle for the organic section at the grocery store.

A beautiful spring day in Minnesota. Even though there are still piles of snow and ice, it's now clear that they're clinging on but doomed. It was a good day to bring out the grill. I stopped at the meat market to get one lovely steak--and told Jim that he'd have to man the grill since I was getting the broccoli on the table. Nice to be able to use up some parsley that's not going to make it much longer and half a lemon that I found in a corner of the crisper drawer.

The smell of melting butter erases the scent of steamed broccoli. I know that broccoli is the healthier choice, but butter smells better.

The smell gets even better when three cloves of chopped garlic are added. I never paid the slightest bit of attention to the green "germ" in the garlic. Now, unfortunately, I know it should be removed. That extra step is kind of a pain, and I'm not completely sure that it makes a difference, but I try to be a good instruction follower. Broccoli is one of Jim's least favorite foods, but he was very taken with the smell of garlicky butter.

The lemon peel and parsley add fresh notes. Unfortunately, the crumbs do not adhere very well to the broccoli, so basically I put the broccoli on a platter and scrape the crumbs on top.

Jim was disappointed in the final dish. I think he'd been hoping for something transformative, and what he got, according to him, was lukewarm broccoli with crumbs on top. (If you make the broccoli a half-hour before serving, as I did, make sure to warm it up). I thought it was considerably better than that, but I didn't think it was the best possible broccoli recipe. The first grilled steak of the season? Now that was good.