I have no idea why I wanted something so heavy for dinner last night, but the only thing that sounded good to me was a perfectly thin, pan-seared chicken breast smothered in a creamy mushroom sauce.
The only rationale I can think of would be: (a) “creamy mushroom” is the color of the walls in most of my house, and after a year & a half of living with them, I finally caved and decided I like mushrooms, especially if they are creamy, or (b) Lindsey and I were just talking about chicken cutlets and how perfectly delicious they are if they’re pounded out juuuuust right (is it odd that I have conversations with my very best friends about things like “chicken cutlets?”), or (c) I love the smell of mushrooms, onions and thyme sauteing in butter, or (d) I haven’t cooked anything “French” lately, and every once in a while, I get the urge to channel the spirit of Julia Child in the kitchen and whip up something “fancy.”
Either way, this dish turned out pretty good. It was extremely rich – actually, richer than I wanted – but I still ate it. And loved it.
Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce
First: prepare your vegetables. Slice 1/2 pound white mushrooms that have been gently brushed with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt. Don’t rinse them; they’ll soak up too much water and be gross. Also chop about 1/2 white onion and a couple cloves of garlic. Set all aside until ready to use.
Next: prepare two chicken breasts for quick sauteing. Place them between two sheets of plastic wrap, on a cutting board, and with a mallet (or drink muddler, which is what I used… hell, you could probably do it with a hammer, too, if your day is just that bad) pound them until they are super thin, about 1/4″ thick. Promise me you won’t ignore this step if you make this recipe. it just tastes better if you use thin cutlets. If you don’t want to hammer down your chicken, just spend the extra cash to buy them already cutlet-sized at the grocery store. I, personally, would rather save that $0.80/per pound and spend it on something else, but to each her own. Dust lightly with flour, shaking off the excess. Sprinkle each side with some salt & pepper.
Heat a saute pan with 2 tablespoons butter & 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat. When pan is scorching hot, add the chicken. Cook for 3 minutes per side; only turning once. Remove, set aside and cover with tin foil to keep warm.
Immediately return the pan to the heat, adding 2 more tablespoons butter. As soon as it’s melted, add your mushrooms. Do NOT salt the mushrooms immediately. Coat them in the cooking fats and let them turn golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add the diced onion, and then add salt, pepper and some dried (or fresh) thyme. Sautee about 4 more minutes. Add the garlic, cook for another 2 minutes. At this point, most of the liquid in the pan should be evaporated and any little brown bits that were leftover from the chicken should be starting to come off the bottom of the pan.
Add in about 3/4 cup white wine and simmer aggressively until the sauce has reduced by at least half. Scrape up those last remaining brown bits. Mmmm. Flavor. Add in about 1/2 cup of heavy cream, stir. Add the chicken back to the pan, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 3 minutes. Turn the chicken breasts over, and simmer another 3-5 minutes.
Enjoy. Serve with a side salad and a piece of crusty French bread to soak up the creamy sauce.