Happy Bastille Day! In honour of this auspicious occasion, I was planning a boeuf bourgignon, but I’ve cooked so many heavy meals this week that I was begged to do something different. So, keeping in theme, I present for you … Chicken Chasseur. ‘Chasseur’ is a French sauce, the chief ingredient of which is mushrooms. The basic sauce is based on a roux of butter, flour, and white wine. It has quite a delicate flavour, yet very filling, and the lighter tastes of thyme and garlic come through really nicely.
Serve it over rice with a glass of white wine. Just delicious!
Starting from the left, we have chicken (I’ve used four chicken breasts, and have made about twice as much as I needed for three people. Leftovers, here we come!); three or four rashers of bacon; a tin of diced tomatoes (see note below); minced garlic (or three pressed cloves); mushrooms; dry white wine; unsalted butter; some vegetables (I’ve used carrot and broccolini); a brown onion; thyme (fresh would be best, but I didn’t have any); parsley (I’ve got continental here, but it’s not important what variety you use); and some paprika.
Regarding the tin of tomatoes, this recipe would probably work much better with about four peeled and deseeded fresh tomatoes instead. I didn’t have any fresh, so I just drained the liquid from the tinned variety. See my pantry entry about tinned tomatoes for instructions on how to do that.
Cut the rinds off the bacon, and chop the rashers into reasonably small pieces.
Throw the rashers into a cold large saucepan, and turn the heat on to medium.
While you’re waiting for the rashers to cook, let’s mangle an onion. Chop it in half and lop the top off. Peel the skin back, and cut it into slices with your paring knife.
Use your chef’s knife to cut it crossways, into about 1cm square pieces.
Dice the chicken up into reasonably small pieces – about 2cm.
When the bacon rinds are crispy, and there’s lots of oil in the pan, remove the rinds with tongs to preserve the fat. Take the pan off the heat for a moment or two, to let it cool down a bit before you do the next bit.
Add the onion and the bacon.
Throw in the garlic, the parsley, the thyme, and paprika. Give it all a good stir around. When the bacon is cooked, and the onion is transparent, remove it from the pan and put it aside in a bowl.
Now to the chicken – brown it off in batches, adding a little oil as you go if you need to. You want to make sure it’s pretty much cooked all over the outside, but still raw in the middle, so about two minutes for each batch. Make sure you don’t overcrowd your pan as you do this, you want some of that colour to transfer to the chicken, and make sure you’re browning it rather than stewing it.
Mushrooms! Remove the stalks if they’re particularly long or a bit woody. I wouldn’t peel them unless they’re past their sell-by date and looking a little slimy, or if they’re very dirty and it can’t be removed with some gentle rubbing.
Dice them up pretty small, but remember that they will shrink as they’re cooked, too. Add a good slurp of oil to the pan and add them in. Just stir them around for a minute or two, resisting the temptation to add more oil, and then add them to your bowl with the chicken and bacon (I seem to be missing a photograph … whoops!)
Here’s our lovely grotty pan. In a lot of recipes, we would be deglazing this now, and that’s sort of what we’re going to be doing, but more gently. The basis of the sauce is a roux, so we’ll be using the roux to get the flavour off the bottom of the pan this time. It’s why we started in a saucepan, rather than a frying pan.
Turn the heat down to low, and throw a good knob of unsalted butter in, and let it melt. This is around about 100g.
As the butter melts, use your spatula to scrape that good stuff up off the bottom.
Throw in a good-sized tablespoon of plain flour.
And stir it through into the butter. It will all thicken up quite quickly. Can you see the brown flecks in the roux? That’s the chickeny-bacony-goodness off the bottom of the pan.
As soon as the roux has thickened up, drop in a slug of white wine – about a quarter to half a cup. It might go a bit lumpy to start with, but don’t panic! It’ll all start to smooth out soon …
This is a bit hard to see, but the wine is all incorporated and the roux has started to thicken up again. Drop in another small slug of wine (about a quarter of a cup), and let it thicken up again.
Now it should be starting to look like a thick sauce – and it should be reminding you of the bechamel sauce we made for the lasagne.
Time to throw everything back in – the mushrooms, the chicken, and the bacon.
Chuck the tomatoes in. If you need a little more liquid, use some chicken stock, or just a little bit of water. Don’t make it very runny, as liquid will come out of the chicken as it’s cooked, just make it so you have a nice thick gravy consistency hanging all the chicken and other bits together. Mix it all through.
Give it a taste test and work out if it needs anything. I ground a bit of black pepper in at this point. You might be inclined to add some more thyme or paprika as well.
Pop the lid on, keep the temperature very low, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked through. If you take a big piece of chicken out to test, it should be just white all the way through, with a very slightly pinkish tinge in the very middle. If it’s still pink right through you need to cook it a little more.
Now is the time to organise the side dishes. Put some rice on, peel and chop the vegies. I just steamed some carrot and broccolini in the microwave.
Put the rice down, the vegies on the side, and then dribble the chasseur over the top.
The photos are available in the Chicken Chasseur Photobucket album.