Monday, March 23, 2009

Chicken in Buxom Cream Sauce

I just couldn't figure out what else to call it.

On her way home from work, Julia called to see what I wanted her to get from the grocery store. She wanted chicken in some sort of cream of something sauce and wanted to know if there was anything else I needed. Well, actually mushrooms and cream of something (mushroom) sauce. I had everything else I needed.

I know a lot of people turn up their noses when someone suggests using a cream of something soup as a base for a sauce. I find it saves me a lot of work and hassle; I don't spend hours cooking the cream sauce and risking burning it. Campbell's soups are consistent, so I know how thick and creamy the end product will be. I also know that I will be adding so many other flavors that the base soup won't necessarily be recognizable.

One of my standard chicken in cream of mushroom sauce dishes uses dijon mustard; I don't make it like the recipe the can. I start with cutting up the chicken, sauteeing mushrooms and onions, browning the chicken, then deglazing the pan. But this weekend I ended up watching America's Test Kitchen and it gave me an idea: sharp cheese!

Chicken in Buxom Sauce
1 whole chicken breast cut into 1/2 pieces
3 tablespoons of Worchestershire sauce
1 large white onion, chopped (I only had a half, so that's what I used. I prefer more)
1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon horseradish sauce
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
1 cup dry white wine
1 to 1-1/2 cups of water
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons dried garlic
4 medium handfulls egg noodles (good thick noodles, not wimpy curly ones)

Marinade the chicken in the Worchestershire sauce. The chicken should be coated with a little pooling in the bottom of the bowl.

Over high heat, sautee the onions and mushrooms in the canola oil until they carmelize and a dark brown crust begins to form on the bottom of the pan. Once the mushrooms and onions are done, pull out of the pan and set aside.

Drain the chicken, reserving the fluid. Brown the chicken well. Remove chicken and deglaze with half of the wine. Turn the heat to medium low.

Blend the mustard, horseradish, cheese, pepper, remaining wine, and reserved Worchestershire sauce. Add to deglazing wine in skillet. Stir in the cream of mushroom soup until well-blended. Stir in water slowly until blended. Return chicken, mushrooms, and onions to skillet. Stir well.

Stir sauce frequent to prevent burning. Simmer for 30-60 minutes or until sauce has thickened.

When cooking the noodles, add the salt and garlic to the cooking water. Drain thoroughly.

Serve the sauce over the noodles.

The dish turned out awesomely. The sauce was everything I wanted, creamy and savory. While strongly flavored, the mustard, horseradish, and cheese harmonized beautifully. Unfortunately, I had a couple too many irons in the fire while cooking dinner to think about serving a veggie with it. When serving a side vegetable, it needs to be strongly enough flavored to stand up to the strong flavors in the sauce. I recommend steamed broccoli or Brussels sprouts; green beans are too weak and carrots may be too sweet.

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