This is a very simple dish… Well simple in the flavor and tones that it has, but not so much in the process. The star is again the gallus domesticus aka chicken. It is a hear warming dish that combines three basic cooking skills and techniques to make a unique dish. A dish that can be easily moded changed and reinvented. Chicken with mashed potatoes and cream sauce. Three items that are independent from each other and the real trick is how to bond them. You want them from a trio they are, to make them sing like a chorus. So this post is an attempt to show you how three items can be brought together under the same flavor roof.
With no delays let’s review the ingredients:
• Chicken 3 breasts
• A medium onion
• 3-4 potatoes
• 2 lbs of meaty mushrooms like porcini or oysters (pleurotus ostreatus)
• Brown sugar
• Paprikas (hot, sweet and smokey)
• Heavy Cream
• White wine
• Salt and Pepper
To break this down I will devide the recipe in three major tasks that for time’s sake they will be intertwined.
Task 1: All purpose chicken preparation
Task 2: Mashed potatoes
Task 3: Creamy mushroom sauce
The order represents the time required to accomplish them, starting with the chicken and the mashed potatoes which will take the longer, since the have quite long prep time.
Startinng with the the all purpose chicken, as we have done many times before, we will prepare a simple brine. 2 tbsp of brown sugar…
2 tbsp of salt
And smoked hot paprika, or any other spice to break a bit the chickeney flavor
Add luke warm water enough to cover the breasts.
Stir to combine.
Add the chicken breasts, and let them there to soak for as little as 30 minutes up to 2 hours. Longer time will benefit them but not so much.
Just make sure they are completely submerged.
Task 2: Mushed potatoes. Wash and clean the potatoes.
Skin them… and yeah technically you don ‘t have to wash something you are pealing but all this dirt on my fingers…. yuck!!!
Rinse to clean, cut in half …
and dice. The size of the dice is not so important as is the uniformity. Smaller cook faster, soak faster and water-log faster.
Start with cold water, enough to cover the pot.
To bridge them with the cream sauce and the mushrooms we need to add an earthy flavor. And the earthiest I can think off is none other than the Rosemary. The wood and earthy fragrance that reminds of the food that came out of the earth.
Add salt, and let boil until fork tender.
While task 1 and 2 are on the way we turn our attention to task 3 the mushroom cream sauce.
Cut the long stems of the oyster mushrooms. If they are small you can leave them on.
Divide in half and…
Dice… Observe the weird posture of my hands crossed like that. This is all I am going through in order you the reader gat a clear look of what I am enduring for your satisfaction.
And here are the diced mushrooms.
Since we are on the cutting board go ahead and dice the onion. Cut in half lengthwise and
Mince and repeat with the other half.
The mean time 30 mins have elapsed and the chicken can advance to the next face of cooking.
With the required temperature monitoring. Yeah I said three chicken breast and I have four here. I also called it all purpose chicken. That means that I can use the remaining for something else. And it is a pretty awesome idea.
The suggested temperature is 161 F or 71 C. I prefer the Fahrenheit scale to the Celsius since Fahrenheit has more divisions and there for is a bit more accurate. But both will do fine. Set the chicken at 350 F (180 C) and let the chicken reach the desired temperature.
Now in a skillet add a tab (1/2 tbsp) of butter over medium heat,
let it melt and bubble a litte, to become naughty darker in color.
Add the mushrooms no more than a monolayer. If the mushrooms are many maybe you need to do that in two portions. If the pan is filled with mushrooms, they will be steamed, but not sautéed. Steamed is good too, but not what we are looking for. We need sauté. Sauté requires fat and direct contact with heat that results to the wonderful caramelization of the food. The fat is used for this purpose for two main reasons. 1) has higher boiling point than water, and 2) it has none of the dissolving properties of the water, keeping the food in tack. Adding the mushrooms and overcrowding the pan, will results in lot’s of steam generated which is not sauté. One monolayer is all you need.
And peper liberally as well.
By that time the potatoes will be nearly done.
Drain the water and pull them out leaving the rosemary out.
Return them to the pot…
with 1/2 a tbsp of butter.
and with a potato musher or a fork mush them till creamy and nice.
Just like that.
Add the heavy cream, and if it is too thick,
add some milk.
add salt and
nutmeg. I KNOW!!! Always use freshly ground nutmeg. I didn ‘t have any. I had pre-ground… Sue me.
After the trial is over, back to the mushrooms that have gone from this to…
Remove them from the pan.
Add another 1/2 tbsp of butter and follow the same process with the onions. Medium heat again.
Add, sauteé, brown.
By that time the chicken will be done. Remove it and let it cool before you cut it.
There is a part of the chicken that is quite tough (actually tougher than the rest of the breast, not really tough). It is the part that is conected to the wing and therefore it does some extra work compared to the rest of the breast. Remove it to make the breast more sizable for a simple serving, and achieve more uniform textures.
Back to the onions: add some salt
and sauté till brown.
Once brown and delicious add the mushrooms. Keep a third of them for later use.
let them there for a minute or two, just so they heat up.
When the pan is really hot add about half a cup of white wine, less or more adjusted to your liking.
Add the chicken in the mix to heat it through as well.
Add all the juices that came out of the chicken. It is like a chicken licker. Top quality!
Once the liquids are reduced by half, remove the chicken.
Season with some smoked paprika, and
add the heavy cream.
And now add the treasure. The safron.
And the chicken back to the cream to mingle with the sauce for 3-4 minutes.
Take it out.
Add the sauce, the mashed potatoes, and the sautéed mushroom. You can mix the sautéed mushrooms in the mushed potatoes but it is better to keep them separate.
Serve with the wine you cooked with and…