My dear husband faithfully watches Baking with Julia with me every Sunday night because he knows how much I love Julia Child and how much I love telling him how adorable she is during each episode. For my birthday, he also found boxed sets of The French Chef and her two-disc DVD set, The Way to Cook. What a GREAT surprise! She truly holds a special place in my heart; I read and loved Julie Powell’s book, Julie & Julia, and the movie was an instant favorite because I also love Meryl Streep, who portrays Julia as well as anyone imaginable.
After watching (and laughing at) several episodes of The Way to Cook this week, I decided to make her sautèèed chicken with mushrooms & cream. Let me tell you, her confident yet carefree attitude in the kitchen makes for some very humorous entertainment. “You can add heavy cream, if you’re not TOO fat…”
This dish is a dinnertime treat with a flavorful, rich sauce laden with cream and earthy, sautèed mushrooms. While we don’t eat much skin-on chicken, this meal is worth the fat-splurge. Of course there’s also a fair amount of butter; even though it doesn’t call for an excessive amount, I wouldn’t exactly consider this a healthy chicken dish.
First, you heat some butter and oil in a skillet and sautè some fresh mushrooms. I cooked a smaller amount than what the recipe calls for because I scaled it down for two. After tasting the sauce, I know that next time I will make the full amount. It’s ridiculously good!
After cooking for about 3-4 minutes, minced shallots are added, and then the mushrooms are ready to be set aside. These would also be delicious atop a juicy steak.
Next, in another nonstick skillet, you will heat some butter and oil again, and add the chicken pieces. Her recipe calls for a cut-up frying chicken, but I just used a couple of breasts and thighs.
Allow them to cook in the hot buter and oil for 2-3 minutes per side.
After giving the thighs/legs another 10 minutes over medium heat (covered), the breasts get added back to the pan for another ten minutes of covered cooking. I added a sprinkling of tarragon, kosher salt, and freshly-cracked pepper.
After the chicken is cooked through, a simple pan sauce is made from the juices, chicken stock, white wine, and some minced shallots. After the sauce as boiled down slightly, the sauteed mushrooms are added along with a 1/2 cup of heavy cream.
I served this with steamed broccoli and carrots so we’d at least have one guilt-free component to our dinner. Next time, I may increase the sauce and serve it over pasta.
Julia Child’s Sauteed Chicken with Mushrooms & Cream (from The Way to Cook)
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. cut-up frying chicken
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. olive or peanut oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon or thume, or Italian or Provencal seasoning
1 Tbs. minced shallots or scallions
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
1 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. minced fresh parsley and/or chives or tarragon
Brown the chicken in hot butter and oil 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Remove white meat (breasts and wings). Continue cooking dark meat (legs and thighs) 10 minutes, covered, over moderate heat, turning once. Return white meat to pan. Season, cover, and cook 5 minutes; shake pan, and cook 5 minutes more, until tender – about 25 minutes in all. Remove chicken to warm platter. Spoon out all but 1 Tbs. of fat; add shallots, and saute 30 seconds. Pour in stock and wine, and boil down until syrupy.
Add 2 cups sautèed quartered mushrooms and 1/2 cup heavy cream to pan sauce. Boil down to thicken lightly. Add chicken, baste, and warm through 3 to 4 minutes.
Heat 1 Tbs. of butter and 1 tsp. of oil in a frying pan until bubbles begin to subside. Add 2 to 3 cups of sliced or quartered mushrooms (do NOT crowd the pan) and sautè over high heat, shaking the pan frequently. Mushrooms will at first absorb the oil; in 2-3 minutes, oil will reappear on the surface. Toss briefly with 1/2 Tbs. chopped shallots or scallions, a little salt and pepper, and they are done.