Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chicken with Wild Mushroom and Balsamic Cream Sauce

If you are anything like me, you probably wind up with a few unused ingredients hanging out in your refrigerator at the end of the week. Probably you bought said ingredients with good intentions, full of menu plans and dinner ideas. Maybe you changed your mind about what to make, maybe things just got pushed to the back fridge where they were out of sight, out of mind. For whatever reason, you’ve got some odds and ends. The question is, what do you do with them?

The other night, I was faced with a similar quandary. I had a couple packages of mushrooms that were not getting any fresher. I also had a package of chicken that I’d picked up earlier that day, so I had my protein. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my chicken and mushrooms, so I took a quick tour of the internet and landed on this recipe by Rachael Ray. I had everything on hand, and it seemed easy, so I decided to give it a try. I whole-heartedly recommend you try it too.

This recipe is easy and quick enough for a weeknight dinner, but it is also fancy enough to serve to guests. While creamy chicken and mushrooms may be a fairly common combination, the addition of balsamic vinegar gives the sauce an unexpected depth of flavor. You can serve the chicken and mushroom sauce over orzo, as seen in the picture, or over any other type of pasta. Mashed potatoes would be delicious too. If you have any leftover sauce, toss it with a big pot of pasta thinned out with a little pasta water and some extra cream and balsamic vinegar. It’ll be just as delicious as the first night you made it.

Chicken with Wild Mushroom and Balsamic Cream Sauce
Adapted from Rachael Ray

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
Freshly ground black pepper
2 T. butter
10-16 oz. package mushrooms (use any combination of cremini, shiitake, button, etc.)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 T. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 T. balsamic vinegar
3 T. heavy cream or half-and-half
Flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to skillet. Cook 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and cover with foil to keep warm.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter to same skillet. When the butter melts, add the mushrooms. Cook until brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, thyme, and shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until shallots are wilted.

Sprinkle the flour over the mushroom mixture, and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the stock, balsamic vinegar, and cream. Turn up the heat and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Slice the chicken on an angle. You can add it back into the mushroom mixture or serve it on top.

Serve the chicken and mushroom sauce over pasta or mashed potatoes. Garnish with parsley, and serve hot.

Serves 4.

** You might have noticed an absence of parsley in my pictures. The truth is, I could not find my parsley – it was hiding in the fruit drawer. It would have added a nice touch of color though, so definitely add it if you have it… and can find it!

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