Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Julia’s Mushrooms

14 Aug

Happy Official Birthday, Julia! Here’s a beautiful tribute to la grande dame de cuisine herself, written by Marlo Thomas on HuffPo.

For those who’ve seen “Julie and Julia,” you might remember one of Julie Powell’s (er, Amy Adams’) early revelations from “Madame Scheeld” – don’t crowd the mushrooms! What does this semi-cryptic warning mean? (Given that it sounds like advice for when the shrooms were angsty middle schoolers – if you crowd ‘em, they get rebellious and cranky, apparently.)

Julie Powell (Amy Adams), NOT crowding her mushrooms.

Julia’s revelation was simple: When you sauté or cook your mushrooms and crowd too many of them in a pan, they’ll release their liquid and end up steaming each other, rather than browning. And brown, caramelized mushrooms are your goal, rather than “sweaty” mushrooms that haven’t had the chance to fully develop their flavors.

Determined to follow suit, I whipped up this recipe for Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Julia’s Mushrooms. The History Teacher and I noshed upon its tastiness to great effect, heartily drinking our beers alongside the dish as, I imagine, Julia and Paul enjoyed their French wines with gusto in their days in la belle France. For those of us who attempt to cook somewhat “healthily,” the butter content might stop your heart altogether. However! As Julia would say, never apologize – and never compromise with what she called “that other spread,” the infernal margarine. Bon appetit!

Julia at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, with her beloved teacher, Chef Brugnard.

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Julia’s Mushrooms – serves two

For the chicken breasts, you’ll need:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • A dash of poultry seasoning
  • Salt & pepper to season
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For Julia’s Mushrooms

, you’ll need:

  • 1 ½ lbs mushrooms, wash, dried and sliced. (Use basic button mushrooms)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Parsley to serve

Here’s what you do:

  • Pound the chicken breasts until they are about ½ and inch thick; to easily do this, cover both the top and bottom of each breast with plastic wrap or a paper towel. Then, use a heavy, wieldable object (an actual meat tenderizer works perfectly, but I used the bottom of a heavy jar. Be resourceful!) to pound the breast meat until it’s at the right thickness.
  • In a wide, flat bowl, combine the flour, poultry seasoning, salt & pepper; dredge the chicken breasts lightly in the flour mixture on both sides.
  • In a 10-inch flat skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat (about a 6 on your stove dial). When the oil is hot (sprinkle water droplets into the oil – if they hiss and steam up immediately, you’re ready), add the chicken breasts. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and cooked through. Set aside on a plate, lightly covered in foil.
  • Add the butter and olive oil to the pan, raising the heat to high. When the butter’s foam subsides, add the mushrooms and toss occasionally, cooking for 4-5 minutes. They will absorb the fat, then begin “squeaking” as the water (well, steam) escapes them. They’ll brown quickly at this point, so only cook them for 1-3 minutes longer, or until well-browned.
  • On a serving plate, first place your chicken breasts. Top with Julia’s mushrooms; then, sprinkle salt, pepper and dried or fresh (chopped) parsley on top.

Bon appetit! And happy birthday to an American legend.

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