Friday, May 21, 2010

Mustard-Tarragon Chicken Saute

Monday evening I made Mustard-Tarragon Chicken Saute for dinner. This recipe is from Bon Appetit April 2002 and I've made it many times, but surprisingly, I don't think it has made it onto the blog. This is one of our 'more favorite' meals and it is a dish that my parents really, really like, too. In fact, my dad likes the sauce so much that my mom usually makes extra sauce!

It's very easy to make. I don't cook my chicken in a skillet; I bake it in the oven. I lined a cookie sheet with foil, spread a bit of butter on the foil so that the chicken wouldn't stick, and sprinkled both sides of each chicken breast with salt & pepper. The chicken breasts that SP bought were huge. They took 40-45 minutes at 350 in the oven. We each ate half a breast for dinner, so we got 2 meals out of this dish.

While the chicken baked, I got the rice simmering. We're still debating whether or not it's worth it to buy a rice cooker. On the one hand, I always seem to boil over rice when I make it, and that makes a mess and requires more clean up, and it's annoying to have to hover over the stove keeping an eye out for the rice boiling over.

On the other hand, one User Guide I read in the store mentioned that that particular rice cooker gives off so much steam when it cooks the rice that you shouldn't place it on a counter under a cabinet because the steam could damage your cabinet - ?! We certainly don't want that! While we could use it on the island, I'm just not sure about it. Do all rice cookers give off that much steam? You would think I'd know all about rice cookers after living in Japan for 2 years, but... I don't!

So every time, I try to not boil over the rice. It seems to cook best when I start it on the lowest flame and keep it there, even if it takes an hour to cook a half cup of rice. Sometimes if I do it with the flame a bit higher, the water evaporates before the rice is fully cooked and the rice tastes a bit hard/crunchy to me. And it boils over. Yuck and ugh!

After setting the rice over the lowest flame, I washed and cut some fresh broccoli and put it in a casserole for steaming in the microwave once SP got home. Then I started the sauce for the chicken.It's really easy. I chopped a shallot and simmered the shallot in some butter. Then I added the vermouth and mustard. I've used regular Dijon and the whole grain Dijon for this dish. Both are good. I always use generous tablespoons of the mustard.

After the vermouth and mustard started to simmer, I added the cream and tarragon. I always guess on the amount of tarragon - I just sprinkle it in until it looks good to me. I didn't use whipping cream; I used whole milk. My mom once made it with heavy cream (she bought heavy cream instead of whipping cream by accident) and while it was deliciously rich and thick, it's not especially healthy! Whipping cream is less fat than heavy cream, and whole milk is even less. You could probably use skim milk, but then the sauce might be too weak/bland. I say might, because mostly what I taste is the mustard and tarragon and those 2 flavors together are terrific. I've seen a lot of recipes for similar mustard-tarragon sauces, some with brandy instead of vermouth, some with chicken broth, but they have the mustard-tarragon combination in common.After the chicken finished baking, I let it rest for a bit and then sliced it and added the slices to the sauce in the skillet. When he got home, SP microwaved the broccoli and we sat down to a very tasty and easy dinner.

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