Sautéed Chicken Breasts Piemontese
Whenever I taste a really good wine I daydream about food it will pair with and I know when I’m on the right track when the person from the wine company pouring the wine smiles about my suggestions.
California Chardonnay can be a challenge for food. Because of this intensity, Chardonnay pairs best with food that doesn’t fight it, but attempts to match its richness and personality. Neutral meats such as chicken, pork or veal in cream- or butter-based sauces are safe bets. Toasted nuts are compatible and mild mushrooms as well. So why not chicken, mushrooms, nuts and cream and a touch of orange zest to work with the fruit.
4 boneless, skinless chicken half-breasts, each about 6-8 ounces
1/2 cup flour (for dredging)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 olive oil
About 1/2 pound mild mushrooms (such as cremini, white, oyster), finely chopped (4 cups)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
1 Tbls chopped fresh thyme
Grated zest of 1 small orange (about 1 Tbls)
Good splash of Dry Marsala wine
2 Tbls chopped parsley
Here’s What To Do:
Woody’s note: Meat needs to be of an even thickness for correct cooking so you need to flatten the breasts. Put one or two chicken breasts in a medium zip closure food bag and squeeze out all the air then lightly pound to a uniform 1/3-inch thickness.
Season the flour with salt and pepper, then dredge the chicken in the flour until uniformly coated and shake off the excess. Warm 3 Tbls of the olive oil in large skillet over moderate heat. Add the chicken and gently sauté for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until almost cooked through. You want the breasts to be pale gold but you don’t want them to develop a crust. They must remain tender. Remove from pan and transfer to a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm.
Add the remaining olive oil to the hot skillet and toss in the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms briskly over moderately high heat for about 4 minutes or until they start to give off some liquid. Add the cream, hazelnuts, thyme and orange zest; simmer until thickened stirring. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer 2 minutes longer, or until cooked through. Taste for salt and adjust. Transfer the chicken to plates. If the sauce is too thin, reduce it a bit longer, then spoon over the chicken. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
I suggest a little egg fettuccine with a touch of pesto sauce or even just good olive oil and parm cheese along with some sauced spinach.
What Goes With What Wines Selections
Domaine Pichot Vouvray ’07, Lorie (Vouvray)
A very floral Chenin Blanc, just off-dry in feel with crisp acidity and a rich concentration with a nice perfumed nose of ripe pineapple. The final palate is succulent and the wine is easy to drink with refreshing, juicy acidity. R 87 $15
Rutherford Ranch Chardonnay 2007 Napa (Chardonnay)
Wonder of wonders, a Napa valley chard that is beautifully fruited wine (orange blossoms, nectarines, poached pears, and a hint of pineapples) and thank goodness only a little oak, medium body, zesty freshness, and lovely, pure fruit. R 89 $10.99