Families are like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts. Unknown
My aunt Gail and uncle Larry from Oregon are here visiting my uncle Dave. Uncle Dave and uncle Larry are my Dad’s brothers. Because my dad has been gone for many years, it’s really neat to spend time with his brothers. And auntie Gail is wonderful – we like a lot of the same things. I don’t about other people, but I absolutely love interacting with my relatives as an adult with all the wonderful memories I have from being around them as a kid. Larry and Gail visit about once a year, and it’s cause for many ruthless domino games. I mean these boys are cutthroat! Dominoes is a game of chance and strategy and the more players you have the harder the game gets. So you can imagine the table talk and insults that fly around as we’re playing.
So today we had a hot and heavy series, punctuated by a hot meal and a fun dessert. I wanted to make something special, but I completely lost my mind yesterday and spent the day being lazy. Actually, Jim went up north to my mom’s house and I stayed behind with our older dog, Keats, and our little visitor, Miss Twiggy. I had every intention of baking all day long and getting ready for today, but having the house completely to myself somehow caused me to temporarily lose my mind, and the only thing I got done was washing and changing the bedding, and washing the couch cover. Suddenly the washer was sitting in large pool of water; and while I suspected the issue was probably a clogged up lint screen, it seemed like a sign that I shouldn’t do anymore laundry. In fact, it seemed like a sign that I should lay around all day reading and taking naps. So, I went with it. I did take some chicken out to thaw, which turned out to be a very good thing.
I got home from church about 12:15, and since our original plan had been to eat at 2:30, I had to get cracking. I decided to make one of my favorite meals – Chicken Breasts in Sherried Mushroom Cream Sauce – a recipe I found on the Internet several years ago. And I was going to make a bar version of a banana cream pie but realized I wouldn’t have time, so instead, I made apple dumplings (the naughty kind made with Mountain Dew – naughty, but always a huge hit).
And of course I was totally distracted while I was making this because my company was here and I was trying to be a good hostess, so there is a picture or two missing. But I don’t think it’s anything that will adversely affect anyone’s ability to make this!
Start with some boneless skinless chicken breasts and a meat pounder. I like this part, it’s fun! You get to make a lot of noise and even work out some aggression.
Now, here’s a small confession. I forgot to take a picture before I pounded the chicken breasts, so this is a staged photo after I had already flattened this baby. I just sort of bunched it up to make it look good. And you know, chicken is just so…gishy. I love eating it, but don’t really like touching it. And not to be a freak, but I am crazy about cleaning up when working with chicken. With bleach. I don’t touch the faucet with my dirty hands, and I have one of those automatic soap dispensers. I don’t want anyone getting sick. So, put the chicken breasts (you can do two at a time), in a heavy duty Ziplock gallon bag. I like these because you can seal them, and it keeps little bits of chicken gish from flying around and getting stuck on everything.
Now, using the flat side of the pounder, flatten that chicken. You don’t have to hit it really hard, but be firm. This tenderizes it beautifully. They should be about 1/4″ thick. When you get to the last two, put some butter and olive oil in a pan and heat it up over medium heat. Preheat the oven to 200°.
Salt and pepper to taste, and dredge in flour on both sides.
Now saute them, but make sure not to crowd them in the pan. Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes on each side, until nicely golden brown.
Just like this. Mmm, they smell wonderful. Put them in a pan and put that pan in the oven to keep them nice and warm.
Okay, now once you’ve got the chicken browned, get out these ingredients. Dice up the shallots and brush and slice your onions. Also, pretend there’s a container of chicken stock in the picture.
Leave a little oil in the bottom of the pan and throw in the shallots. Cook them for a minute or two over medium high heat.
Then put in the mushrooms and cook about three minutes. I know this looks like a lot of mushrooms – but keep in mind I tripled the recipe. Next, put in the sherry. Look back at the picture of the shallots. See all the brown stuff in the bottom of the pan? That’s called “fond” and it’s just a fancy way of saying “cooked on bits”. Fond adds lots of flavor, but you have to get it off the bottom. And alcohol does that job perfectly – that’s called “deglazing”. Plus the sherry adds a beautiful flavor and depth. You’re going to cook it until the sherry’s almost completely evaporated. Now here’s where I kind of lost it – because sometimes I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, and I had a house full of company. No picture, but now you pour in the cream and the chicken stock, and let it reduce for about 10 minutes. Finish by pouring it over the chicken, and serve.
And here’s the final product! I served it with sticky white rice and green beans with shallots sauted in olive oil. And then we finished up with apple dumplings.
Chicken Breasts in Mushroom Cream Sauce:
4 boneless/skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper
12 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
1 large shallot, diced
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sherry
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
Place the chicken breasts, two at a time, into heavy gallon sized zip bags. Pound with the flat side of a meat tenderizer until about 1/4″ thick. Alternatively, use a heavy skillet.
Place the butter and olive oil into a large heavy sauce or frying pan and heat over medium high heat. Preheat the oven to 200°, and get out a 9 x 13 casserole pan.
Salt and pepper to taste and dredge in flour, and then place in the hot pan. Don’t crowd the chicken breasts. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side. When done, place in the casserole pan and put the pan in the oven to keep warm. If they are going to be in the oven for more than 15 minutes, cover tightly with foil and reduce oven temperature to 175°.
Without cleaning the pan the chicken was sauteed in, add the diced shallots and cook for a minute or two.
Add sliced mushrooms and cook for two or three minutes, then add the sherry. Cook until the sherry is almost completely gone, and then add the whipping cream and chicken stock. Cook an additional five or ten minutes, allowing the whipping cream to boil and thicken.
Pour mushroom sauce over the chicken and serve.