Thursday, April 30, 2015

Chicken with Creamy Mustard Sauce

I have a secret to confess--I've had a lifelong love affair with mustard.  It all started innocently enough.  A little Cheap Yeller Mustard on a hot dog as a kid.  Next thing you know, I'm jonesin' every time the Grey Poupon commercial comes on.  I've got it bad, friends.  There's nigh on fifteen different mustards stashed away in my fridge and cupboard.  Maybe more.

I've even visited Dijon, France, surely the Mecca of the mustard world if there ever was one.  It's a place so wonderful the mustard truly flows from taps instead of beer.

I'm not kidding.  Mustard on tap in Dijon, France

The Eat'n Man loves him some Mustard on tap!

So, if you're into the 'yellow fairy' as much as I am, the best thing to do is just embrace your inner mustard-aholic and use it with wild abandon.  And mustard is not just something to slather on your burger or corn dog, It's a viable ingredient in its own right, and it veritably sings in this savory chicken dish here.

Mustard Chicken

2 Chicken Breasts, Sliced in Half Crosswise into Cutlets
4 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
8 Oz White or Crimini Mushrooms
1 Large Shallot, Chopped
2/3 Cup White Wine
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
3 Tablespoons Traditional (Smooth) Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Tablespoon Fresh Tarragon

Melt butter with the olive oil in a large skillet.

While it's melting, slice your chicken breasts in half crosswise, along the flat,

so that you have two thin cutlets from each breast.  Sauté the breasts until they are golden brown and just cooked through.

Don't overcook 'em.  In fact, you might undercook 'em a bit, since you will be holding them in a warm oven while we make the sauce.  You can check to make sure they are done before you serve.

Transfer the breasts to a casserole dish and hold in a 225˚F oven until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, make your sauce.

Slice your mushrooms in half

and sauté them until they are golden brown and soft.

Reserve.  Add the white wine to the skillet and deglaze.

Chop the shallot...

...and add it to the skillet.

Add the garlic.  If you have a fancy garlic press like we do, it can make short work of mincing.

Now, the mustard.

Ah, I can't help admiring the freshly opened jars of yellow goodness.  We're using two types of Dijon mustard today to really ramp up the flavor.  You could of course try other sorts and you'd probably come up some something nice as well.

Add the mustards to the skillet and stir to combine.

Add the cream.

Add the chicken stock and the tarragon.

Stir while you simmer the sauce for a few minutes.

Taste and adjust with salt and pepper as necessary.

Serve immediately over the chicken.  You can reintroduce the mushrooms to the sauce before hand, or just some 'em on the side, as we've done here.

Until Next Time,

Bon Appetit!


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Duck Breast in Red Wine Sauce

Ah, Duck.  While it's one of the great delicacies of the culinary world, Duck is one dish in which many Americans never partake.  This is a shame, because Duck is rich, savory, succulent and full of flavor; it's surprisingly meaty, almost like a beefsteak, and it holds up well to fancy, full-flavored sauces like this red wine sauce presented here.

Duck should be on your culinary agenda to try--and not just at that fancy French restaurant that you've been meaning to try.  Duck is quite easy to prepare at home, and--though not foolproof, it can be quite simple.  This dish here is about as simple as it gets, but your guests will think you slaved away at this one with as much rich flavor as it ha.  And the thing is, even though we are saucing it up, most of the flavor comes from the duck meat itself.

Duck Breast in Red Wine Sauce

1 10-12 Oz Duck Breast
2/3 Cup Beef Stock
2/3 Cup Red Wine
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Butter
Dash Herbs de Province
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

First, get a hold of a good duck breast.  Round here, this isn't something you can usually find in your run of the mill grocery store.  We found what we were looking for at Central Market, where we opted to spend a little extra to go with a Muscovy Duck Breast, rather than run-of-the-mill Mallard.

Since it was just the two of us, one breast (at almost a pound) was plenty to split.  If you've got more mouths to feed, just multiply the ingredients above as needed.

To begin, score the skin side of the breast with a sharp knife

in a crosshatched pattern.

This will help the breast cook evenly and allow it to release its precious fat.  Whatever you do, don't ever remove the skin--its perhaps the best part--it crisps up nicely and also has a great deal of the duck fat that we'll be using later.

Sauté the duck breast skin side down 

over medium-high heat in a skillet for around ten minutes.  This is one of the few cases when you won't have to add any oil or fat to the pan first--the breast will release its own as you sauté.  

After a few minutes, the breast begins to release its fat

This duck fat is like gold, or maybe even platinum.  It is rich, decadent and flavorful.  If you have never had French fries fried in duck fat then you are truly missing out.  Always save the duck fat when you cook a dish like this.  You can freeze it and keep it for several months, or better still, use it to make a side dish for your duck breast.  Vegetables or mushrooms sautéd in duck fat are fabulous; you could also toss some potato chunks in the fat and then roast them, or even scramble your eggs the following morning in a little bit of it.  Today, we'll be reserving some for our sauce.  

Reserved Duck Fat  -- Pure Gold, Baby!

After the skin side of the breast crisps up, flip it and cook on the other side for another five minutes or so.  

Of course take a moment and admire that beautifully crisped skin.

Using a meat thermometer, check the temp of the breast at its thickest part.  Duck is poultry, so the USDA is gonna tell you to cook it to 160F, but this will dry it out and toughen it.  Duck, however, is also a red meat, and thus you can get away with medium rare, which is what we prefer, around 135 F on the thermometer.  Pull the breast when it is this temp 

and keep warm.  

Remove all but about two tablespoons of the duck fat from the skillet.  (reserve that fat!)  Add the beef stock to the skillet.  

Add the red wine.  

Add the tomato paste.  

Stir to combine.  Add the lemon juice

Add the butter.  Stir until melted.  

Add the herbs and then salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until sauce thickens a bit.  

Slice the breast crosswise 

from one end to the other.  

Serve immediately with the sauce.  

Until next time,