Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tarragon-Cream Chicken

This one comes from my new favorite source, the Cuisine Tonight Favorites magazine. I was turned away from the recipe at first because it meant using mushrooms - something I have been strongly opposed to and frankly grossed out by. Yes, loyal followers who have read what I say when I don't like something, I have indeed been "allergic" to mushrooms for as long as I can remember.

I planned to try this recipe and omit the little fungi but in a conversation with aforementioned friend Greer via g-chat on gmail, she informed me that they are a umami and I shouldn't leave them out. I thought that was a typo so I asked her, "um excuse me, what?" She quickly sent me the Wikipedia definition from the word she learned from the Food Network Challenges. Umami, also referred to as savoriness, is one of the basic tastes sensed by specialized receptor cells present on the human and animal tongue. It is Japanese for "good flavor", "good taste". Getting a cultural lesson tonight, aren't you? The definition continues on into carboxylate anion this, glutamates that and glutamic acid something or another... uh-uh, lost interest, taking me back to high school chemistry or maybe it was biology lab?? Whatever class, I obviously did not do well with it. I stopped my Wikipedia read and decided to just focus on the part of this term I did understand - savoriness and good flavor.

In the name of good flavor, I decided to conquer my fear and use the mushrooms, making a "umami-esque" dish tonight. I was grossed out cutting them up, I was grossed out cooking them, but when I taste-tested the sauce, I wasn't so irked by them anymore. I sure as heck still scraped them off my food in the end, we are not there yet my friends, baby steps here... but the moral of tonight's recipe is to try new things, even if just partially. If you love mushrooms, you will really love this recipe and if you don't like mushrooms, it is really good and I'm still alive, writing this blog post - they won't kill you and are full of flavor when you are cooking!

Nutritional facts include 490 calories, 42g protein, 14g carbs per serving. It was right around 30 minutes to make.

Let's get started, shall we?

Grocery List:
Chicken Cutlets (only about 5-6 oz each. Not as much meat, easier to saute in a pan due to the thin cut)
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flower
Olive oil
8 oz. button mushrooms, halved if large (I guessed on this and put in about 1/3 cup)
3 oz. prosciutto (I used 4 thin slices)
1 cup white wine or low-sodium chicken broth (I prefer white wine and used a cheap Pinot Grigio)
1 cup heavy cream (I used half & half instead as the "healthier" alternative)
2 tsp. minced tarragon
1 tsp. cider vinegar
Minced fresh chives

Season your chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour.

Using a large pan, saute chicken in oil until lightly browned on both sides - about 8 minutes. Set aside and keep warm (I stick on a plate and set in microwave).

Chop up the prosciutto and add it to the pan, followed by the mushrooms on medium-high heat. Cook until mushrooms soften and begin to brown, about 5 minutes.

I covered with the largest pot top that I had for a more thorough cook

Add the wine (or broth if you choose) and then the half & half to the pan, reducing the heat. Simmer until sauce slightly thickens, about 8 - 10 minutes.

Stir in tarragon and vinegar, cooking for about 1 minute. Garnish the sauce with chives and season with salt and pepper.

Add the chicken back to the pan and cook for 2-5 minutes or until there is no pink in the center.

Spoon the cream sauce over the chicken and you are ready to serve! I paired this with simple lemon-garlic green beans and sweet corn.

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