julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

Think Outside the (Recipe) Box


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Oh, those were such fine, fat, full-flavored birds from Bresse—one taste, and I realized that I had long ago forgotten what real chicken tasted like!” – Julia Child

Remember that relationship you were in where you really loved the person, but after awhile, there was no spark? No excitement? They had become too familiar and too predictable and … let’s face it … too boring?

That’s where I am with chicken. (My husband just heaved a sigh of relief.)

Step 1: Saute mushrooms

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love chicken, but man it can get boring. Grilled chicken, fried chicken, barbecue chicken, chicken parmesan (which I like to call Chicken PamaJama, after this catchy-yet-mildly-inappropriate tune)…sometimes it’s hard to think of new ways to prepare this meat that doesn’t take a lot of effort but also gives your tastebuds a thrill. And isn’t that something we all want? Thrilled tastebuds?

Julia Child really opened my eyes when it came to chicken. Her way of cooking chicken breasts was totally inspired, and yielded incredible results! But even her recipes, as delicious and easy as they are, are beginning to wear thin. And so, for the final chicken recipe in MtAoFC, I decided to give it a Jessica spin (my, isn’t someone getting bold!).

Topped with a piece of buttered wax paper, this pan is headed to the oven.

This week we had Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons (chicken breasts with mushrooms and cream), which are cooked with Julia’s clever method of rubbing chicken breasts with drops of lemon juice before seasoning them with salt and pepper and searing them in a pan of hot butter. A cover of buttered wax paper seals the deal, and into a 400-degree oven they go for a record-breaking 6 minutes until … voila! … delicious decadent chicken! (In this variation, diced mushrooms and minced green onions cook in the hot butter before the chicken is added, and the whole thing is popped in the oven beneath its wax paper lid.)

I decided I didn’t feel like pieces of cut-up chicken breast with a couple of veggies on the side. Again. That’s so…everyday. So instead, I made a batch of fettuccine* noodles and heaped a helping (say that five times fast) into a couple of bowls. When the mushroom chicken was finished cooking, I pulled it out of the oven and removed the chicken to a separate plate, letting it sit for a few minutes before I roughly diced it (and immediately noticed that it was cooked to perfection as always!) and sprinkled a few pieces of the moist, tender meat over the noodles.

This cream sauce is amazing!

The final step is to make the cream sauce, and because we weren’t just going to be drizzling this over some meat but would rather be covering our fettucini, I doubled the recipe (a first in this project, as we’re usually having to down-size!). I poured a half-cup of brown stock and a half-cup of Madeira into the pan (where the butter and mushrooms/onions were still waiting) over high heat. Once it began to bubble and boil, I poured in two cups of whipping cream, watching the sauce thicken and bubble some more. I turned off the stove and used a large spoon to pour the sauce over the chicken and noodles in each bowl. Man, this was smelling good!! A couple slices of toasted homemade white bread (do you own a bread machine? You should!!) finished off the dish and we were ready to dig in.

Doesn't this look delish?

As I mentioned before, the meat was perfect, and the cream sauce…divine!! The consistency was great – not too thick, but not watery, the flavors came together perfectly. I couldn’t even notice the alcohol in the sauce (which is good…I’ve had mishaps where the alcohol was too strong in the final product, making the dish hard to eat). Best of all, there was plenty of sauce to sop up with the bread. A home run!

Sometimes it’s fun to put your own spin on a tried and true recipe. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box…just because it’s written in a book or on a card doesn’t make it set in stone. Make modifications – make adjustments – be bold! The kitchen is no place for the timid.

What recipe will you create? Feel free to share your latest adventures!
– Jessica

*I know, I thought it was spelled “fettucini” too…shocking journalistic discoveries here on AYWJ!

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7 Responses to “Think Outside the (Recipe) Box”

  1. Had to leave a comment once I realized how few you are getting.. considering all your subscribers and how great this blog is, it’s shocking to me. Anyway, I’m loving reading this blog, I love your take on this project… good luck!

    • Jessica says:

      Thanks for the comment! This project is definitely a challenge, but I’m having a blast and learning a lot. Glad to hear you’re enjoying it! Stay tuned for more adventures, and thanks for reading! :)

  2. Michael T. says:

    Sounds like a great recipe Jess! The chicken with lemon and drenched in butter has to be good. Looking forward to dinner with you guys so we can drink that bottle of wine.

  3. Ardeth Blood says:

    I just discovered your blog.
    I’ve been a fan of Julie Powell’s blog/book and seeing yours now side by side with her’s, makes me want to try it again. I tried doing something similar recently, from a vegetarian’s point of view and failed big time.
    You have a unique style that at times outshines Mrs. Powell’s.
    I love the fact you’ve got the guts to do this.

    • Jessica says:

      Thanks for the kind words! So glad you’ve found this site…it’s definitely been a challenge, but I’m learning a lot and am having fun. Thanks for following along! Stay tuned for more adventures soon! :)

  4. Brandy says:

    Hey, kid! You’ve got an amazing way with words. I enjoy reading your blog a couple of times a week. Keep up the great stuff. :)

    • Jessica says:

      Hey, Brandy!! What a nice surprise! So glad you’re following along – thanks for commenting. Ben’s appendectomy sort of put a slight kink in the plan, but stay tuned for some major adventures in the upcoming week… *cringe* :)

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