Up until I got married I thought that I couldn’t do much with chicken breasts. Then I married my “chicken-breast-lover” husband.
He loves it so much that he asks me to make it everyday.
When I say everyday, I mean, literally, everyday.
So much so that even after eating chicken breast at home almost everyday, he orders chicken when we go to a restaurant.
Mind boggling, right?
It was to me. At least at the beginning…
But then I made my peace with it and started learning new ways to be creative with chicken breasts. I got used to the fact that since it is, pretty much, flavorless, I could give it a lot of flavor using ingredients like tomatoes, mushrooms, leeks, onions, herbs, etc.
Once I learned that, I started thinking of it as an empty canvas and realized that the possibilities are endless.
As I started cooking more and more chicken, I learned that the most important thing is to cook chicken throughly to prevent any food-born illnesses. I also learned that the best way to check doneness is to use an instant thermometer.
I know a lot of people who cut the chicken to see if it is cooked. However, cutting chicken makes it loose its juices and therefore, the end result turns out to be dry. One of my favorite cookbooks, The Science of Good Cooking (Cook’s Illustrated) explains why it is important to not to cut the meat immediately after it is cooked:
“The meat needs time for the muscle fibers to relax. If you cut into the chicken too soon, the muscle fibers won’t be able to hold on to those juices, which will flood on to the carving board and make it dry and hard.”
In order to check for doneness, for white meat, the thermometer should register 160 F. Degrees and for dark meat, it should register 175 F. Degrees. To make sure that it is evenly cooked, I usually take more than one reading, especially if I am cooking a whole chicken.
The amount of time needed to rest the chicken parts varies, but for chicken breasts, it is ideal to rest it between 5 to 10 minutes for all juices to be released and the meat to be moist.
I have been using this Instant Thermometer for years and I have been very happy with it. It is digital and waterproof.
Chicken Fricassee became very popular in the American tables after Julia Child authored it in her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her original recipe is quite lengthy and requires rather long time to make.
I found this version on Chicken Fricassee on America’s Test Kitchen‘s website and have been cooking it for many years now.
It is made up of sautéing chicken in a little bit of oil and creating a sauce using mushrooms, onion, garlic, white wine, and tarragon. The end result is simply delicious with chunks of mushrooms poured over a piece of moist chicken breast.
I usually serve it with bulgur pilaf or simple white rice and steamed vegetables. A glass of dry white wine turns it into a not-so-ordinary dish that can help you can make in no time.
- 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
- Table salt and ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lbs. Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stems trimmed
- 1 onion, chopped fine – (about to 1 cup)
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cup chicken stock – I used my homemade chicken stock recipe.
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grounded nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 teaspoons tarragon, minced (If you can’t find tarragon, you can use parsley)
- Pat dry chicken breasts with paper towels and season them generously with 1teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
- Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet. Place chicken breasts and cook each side for 4 minutes, in medium high heat. At this point they will not be cooked thoroughly.
- Place them on a plate, cover with aluminum foil and set aside.
- Add the mushrooms, onions, and white wine to same skillet and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned.
- Add the garlic and flour and give it a generous stir. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add chicken broth; scrape the bottom to loosen the brown bits and cook until the broth is boiling.
- Add the chicken and all the juices in the plate and cover it with a lid. Cook, in medium heat, until the chicken registers 160 F. degrees when a thermometer is inserted in the middle. This will take 5 to 10 minutes.
- In the mean time, whisk the egg yolk and sour cream in a small bowl.
- Take the chicken breasts out and place it on a platter. Cover it with aluminum foil. Set aside.
- Measure 1/2 cup of the mushrooms sauce and stir it into the sour cream and egg mixture. Mix.
- Stirring constantly, slowly pour the mixture in to the skillet. Stir in the lemon juice, tarragon, and nutmeg. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Taste it for seasoning and add more, if necessary.
- To serve, place a chicken breast on a plate and pour the sauce over it. Sprinkle it with more tarragon.
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen‘s Quick Chicken Fricassee.