Chez Panisse. The very words conjure up visions of superb food. I've never had the pleasure of eating there - in fact I haven't been within 300 hundred miles - but all the same, when I came across the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook on the shelves of my local library, I was tranfixed by the possibility of culinary adventures in my own kitchen.
- You can find the recipe, with some of my notes, at the end of this post. It's not particularly difficult to prepare, but has several steps. You can finished the sauce up to a day ahead of time.
-The ingredients include chicken breasts (skin on) and also chicken thighs, which are used to make the sauce for the breasts.
- The chicken breasts I bought were on the bone. I de-boned them using this link which describes how it's done.
- According to the instructions, we are to cut the chicken legs in 4 pieces each. I had to wonder, for a basic home cook with ordinary kitchen equipment how is this practicable??? (And why? They're just going to get browned, then simmer in stock.) I wasn't going to cut crosswise through bones, so I got out my most cleaver-like knife and cut through each leg at the joint then cut each piece in half lengthwise, along the bone.
- The herbs were from my garden.
This chicken dish had the most wonderful layers of flavors. The subtle richness of the sauce complemented the spiciness of the cracked black peppercorns perfectly. This recipe is a definite keeper.
Chez Panisse Grilled Chicken Breasts au Poivre(adapted)
6 large boneless chicken breast halves skin on
2 chicken legs
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
2 quarts basic chicken stock (I used 1 quart homemade and 1 quart purchase
2 sprigs parsley
2 thyme branches
2 garlic cloves
3 T peppercorns
Optional: red wine vinegar
Directions for the sauce (can be prepared several hours ahead, or even the day before):
1. remove the fillets from the chicken breasts. With a cleaver, chop each leg into 4 pieces.
2. in a large, deep saucepan, brown the chicken leg pieces and the fillets in a little olive oil. When they are well-browned, deglaze with the white wine and cover with the chicken stock.
3. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and add the parsley, thyme, garlic, and 1 tsp of peppercorns. Simmer hour, then strain, reserving the cooked meat for another purpose, if desired.
4. Skim off the fat, then reduce the broth until rich and slightly thickened; only about 1 1/2 cups should remain. (I actually measured)
Directions for the chicken:
1. Prepare a moderately hot grill (I used a grill pan on the stovetop)
2. Carefully pound the chicken breasts to flatten slightly
3. Crack the remaining peppercorns in mortar and pestle or using the bottom of a heavy pan (I used spice grinder)
4. Coat the breasts lightly with olive oil and season with salt and the cracked peppercorns.
5. Grill the chicken breasts skin side down, rotating for even cooking. When 2/3 cooked, turn the breasts to finish cooking, about 8 minutes in all. Let the breasts stand for a few minutes.
6. Warm the sauce, check seasonings, and add a few drops of red wine vinegar, if desired.
7. Serve the breasts whole or slice each diagonally into 4 slices.