Soubise baked? ‘Shroom duxelles sautéed and half stirred into the soubise, half put aside? GOOD. Now we can bring this baby home…
I should note, if you’re feeling a bit ill-used and stressed by going through the previous two steps; now you get to do some therapeutic banging on pieces of meat. Also – this step will be the last (and messiest) use of your food processor, so you’ll have gotten a good four (or five, if you mince some shallots for the duxelles) turns without having to wash everything out in between. SCHWEET!
Ermmm, I should also note that I have added a step, which I think adds a world of goodness to this recipe: I marinade the chicken in a buttermilk (2 cups), garlic (3 cloves, whacked and tossed into the mix), canola oil (1/2 cup), peppercorn (1 tbsp), salt (1 tbsp kosher or coarse grained sea salt), and maple syrup (1 tbsp) bath overnight. You don’t NEED to do this, but I like that extra touch of sumpin’ sumpin’ this marinade adds to chicken.
•12, or more boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces I used one package of 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which worked, but I think the sheer volume of a dozen pounded out breasts would’ve given a nicer, more substantial poultry layer
•6 tbsp butter – 2 tbsp to sauté the chicken, 4 tbsp for the velouté
•1 tbsp vegetable oil
•Saran Wrap – accept no substitutes – whenever I’ve deviated from Saran brand plastic wrap or Reynolds brand aluminum foil, I have regretted it – save the store brands for waxed and parchment papers
•5 tbsp flour (for the velouté sauce), plus more for the chicken
•3 cups hot chicken stock
•1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
•2 egg yolks
•1 cup (lightly pressed down) grated mozzarella – I actually used a combination of Gruyère, Brick, and White Cheddar that I had in the cheese bin – worked a treat
Remove from the marinade (if you’ve done one) and loosely wrap your individual chicken breasts in Saran wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet – or, Julia had a rubber mallet from the hardware store that seemed to do the job – pound each breast to thin them down by half and about double their size – you now have chicken paillards. Refrigerate until you’re ready to sauté.
Lightly salt and pepper the paillards (I didn’t bother with this step, since my marinade provided the seasoning I wanted) and dredge each lightly in flour, shaking off any excess.
Melt 2 tbsp of butter with the oil in a hot skillet and sauté your chicken about one minute per side (I know, this one is an oddly shaped bit – it still tasted fine), just until it has firmed up – Julia uses this expression a lot, but once you’ve been through the process, you’ll see what she means. Set the slices aside on a plate as they’re finished.
The velouté sauce:
This really isn’t a big deal – especially with the food processor to wrap things up. First, make a roux: melt 4 tbsp of butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed 2-qt. sauce pan. Add the 5 tbsp of flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about two minutes – the mixture should foam a bit and turn no darker than a golden yellow. Remove from the heat, and when it’s stopped bubbling, add 2 cups of the hot stock and stir in (Julia directs vigorously) with a wire whisk.
Return to the burner, stirring slowly and well to reach every bit o’ the pan, and boil slowly for another two minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired (I didn’t think mine needed any, but next time, I may add a splash of good white wine or vermouth). The sauce should be thick enough to coat your wooden spoon well. If it’s TOO thick, beat in additional hot stock by droplets to reach the right consistency – you want a nice, thick SAUCE, not wallpaper paste (I’m jus’ sayin’).
Purée the egg yolks and cottage cheese in the (by now well used) bowl of your food processor. Here’s the COOL bit: With the processor running, stream your hot sauce into the egg yolk/cottage cheese mixture through a small-ish funnel set into the feed tube – the slow streaming will incorporate the sauce in without turning the yolks into very loose scramble eggs. BTW – the flecks of green you may notice would be leftover bits of parsley I pulsed for the duxelles. The sauce now has that touch of color, but also any remaining hint of flavor from the onion, ‘shrooms, and (next time) shallots I’ve also run through the processor – another nice bonus.
AND NOW (TRULY!) The Big Finish:
Butter the inside of a baking dish (I used a low 2 liter CorningWare pan, Julia used a copper gratin pan that I would REALLY like to have), and spread a thin layer of sauce along the bottom.
Add the chicken, overlapping the pieces slightly and spreading them out a bit if you can – this is where I would have been better served by more, or larger, pieces of chicken, but it all still tasted fine.
Spread the soubise over the chicken slices as you go (this would have made sense if I were able to overlap the chicken more – I ended up adding it as a layer on top of my chicken. Tuck the reserved half of your duxelles down (or along, as I did) the sides.
Spoon the remaining velouté sauce over all and spread the cheese on top. The chicken should be totally covered by either sauce or cheese. At this point, you can cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight for a stress-free, but darned impressive dinner for guests the next day.
Heat oven to 400º. Cook chicken, uncovered, for about 25 minutes, until bubbling hot and nicely browned. YUM.
See – that wasn’t so bad, was it?