On a beautiful Sunday, Kiddo and I spend the afternoon in the kitchen together, cooking up a wonderful Chicken dish made with fresh Tarragon, lots of booze and a little arguing.
Once upon a time, Kiddo was my “assistant” in the prep and cook process. He has been prepping and cooking for years, and some of those years have been spend alone in the kitchen developing his own style and flavors. Now he has opinions of his own and has emerged as a strong-willed back seat driver in my kitchen. I’ll say “okay, now we need to do x-y-z” to which he will respond “I think it would be better to do y-z-x”. We will debate the issue. It’s not easy to let go and to be willing to listen since I am not accustom to being challenged in my own kitchen. I will admit, there are times when I shut him down with a glare and the wave of my hand, so entrenched in doing it my way. That’s when the guild creeps in – how can I encourage him to think outside the box one minute and dismiss him the next? I end up apologizing, and giving him a chance to validate his suggestion. There are times when we can agree, and there are times when we cannot.
I like using our largest cutting board. I need lots of room. Kiddo insists he can cut everything on the smaller board. I like putting my prepared ingredients into bowls, lining them up as needed to have handy. Kiddo doesn’t like that idea – mainly because it means more dished for him to dry on the backside. My definition of “chopped” and his differ. As do pinches and dashes. Where the real arguments come in is when Kiddo wants to add or eliminate ingredients. That particular afternoon’s argument revolved around chopping. That’s a minor disagreement. And how brown is brown. Kiddo tends to rush the browning process at times.
The biggest struggle between us that afternoon involved heating and igniting cognac. The first thing we discovered is that we didn’t own a ladle large enough to hold 1/2 a cup of cognac, so we did it in two phases. (That ladle issue has since been resolved, and we have both a 1/2 cup and a 1 cup ladle perfect for the task). I love the idea of flaming booze, but it does makes me nervous. The absolute last thing I need is a back-seat driver holding his breath while telling me over and over again to be careful. (Sorry, no photographs – while it would have been great to capture, it would have required one of us to think ahead, with the blinds closed, lights out and the camera at the ready. I think we were both too nervous to think “blog”).
Chicken Breast Tarragon
4 Chicken Breast halves, boneless, skinless
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
2 Tablespoons Butter, divided
6 Shallots, chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch rounds
½ lb Mushrooms, sliced thin
1 Cup White Wine
1 Teaspoon Salt
Dash of Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Egg Yolk
½ Cup Chopped Fresh Tarragon
1 ½ Tablespoons chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
½ Cup Cognac
In a Dutch Oven or large pot, heat oil and butter. Add breasts in two batches; sauté, turning on all sides until brown, about 10 minutes. Remove and repeat with second batch. Remove second batch, cover chicken to keep warm.
Add shallots and carrots; sauté 5 minutes. Return chicken to Dutch Oven, cover and cook with vegetables until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove breasts to heated serving platter; keep warm.
Strain drippings in pan, discard vegetables; return drippings to pan.
Sauté mushrooms in pan until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove and keep warm.
In a small bowl, combine cream, egg yolk and flour; mix well. Add to drippings. Stir in white wine.
Return breasts to pan; heat. Add tarragon, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Pour Cognac in ladle and heat over gas flame or electric burner; ignite. Pour flaming cognac over breasts.
Bring to a full boil, reduce heat and simmer gently, covered, 30 minutes.
Remove breasts to warm serving platter. Strain drippings and pour over breasts. Garnish with mushrooms and serve.
The Chicken Breast Tarragon was served with Carrots Lyonnaise. Look for the recipe soon.