Sunday, September 25, 2011

Great Expectations

My daughter made dinner last week.  This is not any kind of a remarkable feat.  She is, afterall, 13 years old and has mastered the only skill truly required to cook:  she can read.  Still.  It seems like it was 20 minutes ago that I was making airplane noises while I scraped pureed peas off of her lower lower lip with a plastic-coated spoon.  What the hell happened?  Apparently children grow up without your permission.  Who knew?

It didn't help that she pulled my volume of Julia Child off the shelf and decided to make supreme de volaille archiduc.  Really?  Chicken breast sauteed in onions and paprika in a Madeira-cream reduction sauce?  I had figured when I gave her the green light to cook dinner that we'd be dining on Cap'n Crunch.  Of course, as I gingerly turned over about $15 worth of chicken breast, I realized that we still might.  Indeed, I had visions that this poor chicken was destined to make a charred journey from shrink wrap-to stove-to trash.  Secretly, I wondered if I had any meat sauce stashed in the freezer that I could pull out after what I was sure would be a chicken cremation. 

I was mistaken.  The dish was everything you would expect of chicken breasts sauteed in butter and then slathered with heavy cream and booze.  It was amazing.  Eating my words never tasted so good.  My daughter had the whole family practically licking every morsel and drop of it off the plate with our tongues.  

I have often observed that the secret of successful parenting is to simply lower your expectations.  It seems, however, that the real joy of parenting is watching your children exceed them.

Supreme de Volaille Archiduc (something in French)
By Julia Child

1.   Rub 4 boneless chicken breasts with fresh lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2.  Finely mince one medium sized onion (about 2/3 cup).  Drop the minced onion into boiling water for 1 minute; drain, run cold water over them, and drain again.  This technique lets you quickly soften the onion, but by pouring cold water over the hot onions, you stop them from continuing to cook.

3.  Heat 4 Tbsp of butter in a large saute pan until foaming and add the blanched onion and 1 Tb of  red paprika.  Cook the onions over very low heat for about 10 minutes.  Low heat here is critical.  Butter burns really quickly;  if your pan is too hot you can turn your back for a minute and wind up with a black slurry.

 Add the chicken breasts and saute until they are slightly golden. 

5.  Move them to a casserole dish and finish them in an oven pre-heated to 400 degrees, about 20-30 minutes.  Julia Child claims that the meat is done when it "is springy to the touch"--whatever that means.  I have to either stick a meat thermometer in it or cut it open peak inside, a fact of which I am not particularly proud, but which I passed down to my daughter.   

6.   Pour into the now emptied pan that you used to saute the chicken, 1/4 cup beef broth, 1/4 cup port, Madeira, or dry white vermouth.  We  used Madeira.

7.  Add 1 cup heavy cream.  Yeah, baby, yeah.  This recipe tastes amazing for a reason.

8.  Add back in the reserved onion and paprika mixture.

9.  Stir the sauce constantly over high heat until the cream boils down and slightly thickens.  Season to taste with lemon, salt, and pepper.

10.  Serve the sauce over the now fully cooked chicken breast and garnish with parsley.  Pair it with anything that will absorb the sauce:  risotto, potatoes, polenta and a fresh green, such as those frozen green peas that languish for months in the back of your freezer.
11.  Ask your daughter when she's making it again.

1 comment:

  1. This was so sweet! Now, when can I expect dinner from my children?

    The Pie Guy