Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ad Hoc's Chicken Breasts with Tarragon

Boneless chicken breasts are a staple dinner item at our house. When I got my copy of Thomas Keller's new book Ad Hoc at Home I was excited to see a quick and elegant looking recipe for boneless chicken.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- Scroll down for the recipe. The basic method, as Keller explains it, is "flattened, seasoned, sauteed, and served with a simple pan sauce."

- The recipe calls for a teaspoon of yellow curry powder. I was pretty excited to make my own curry powder, using the recipe from the back of Ad Hoc at Home. Keller's recipe calls for 20 different spices/seeds, all ground up and mixed together - allspice, anise, bay leaf, brown mustard seeds, cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel seed, fenugreek, nutmeg, mace, black peppercorns, ginger, star anise, yellow mustard seeds, turmeric, paprika, flaky sea salt. It turned out that I had most of the ingredients. Some of my spices were already ground when he called for whole, and I ground up some whole spices that Keller specified as ground. The curry powder was the perfect job for my spice grinder (a spare coffee grinder dedicated to spices). A full batch made a TON of curry powder; I spooned it into some empty spice bottles, and gave some to each of my daughters.

- I had bought a big load of chicken, enough for 1 1/2 recipe. It took forever to pound it all out thin. (Honestly, is there a worse kitchen job than pounding chicken breasts?) Luckily once I finished that work, the rest was fairly easy, and I ended up with enough chicken for an army.

- I love the precision of the directions in this cookbook, and have found the timing to be completely accurate. The chicken breasts brown - in batches - for a minute on each side. I set my timer for 1 minute and then hit repeat until all the chicken was browned.

the verdict:

This is a simple, elegant and subtlely-flavored chicken. My daughter JDE and I liked the chicken quite well, but my husband found it quite bland, and couldn't really taste the different flavors. I think the curry could be doubled or even tripled without any problem. I froze the leftover chicken, and it thawed and reheated quite nicely, and during the busy holiday time I loved having extra dinners that were already prepared.

The recipe:

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Tarragon

1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon Yellow Curry Powder (recipe in the book) or Madras curry powder
6 large (about 6 ounces each) or 12 small (about 3 ounces each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
Canola oil
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped tarragon plus 1 tablespoon whole tarragon leaves
Freshly ground black pepper.

1. Mix together the paprika and curry in a small bowl. Season the chicken breasts on both sides with the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. Lay 2 pieces of chicken on a large piece of plastic wrap, cover with more plastic and pound with a mallet until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with remaining breasts. (Chicken may be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 12 hours.)

3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Set a rack over a baking sheet.

4. Season chicken on both sides with salt. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add enough canola oil to film the bottom of pan. Working in batches, without crowding, place breasts smooth side down and let cook until golden brown, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Turn and cook for another 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in oven.

5. Wipe out skillet and return to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and shallot, and sauté for 30 seconds, swirling pan to coat shallot with butter. Add wine, raise heat to medium-high, and cook until wine is reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add stock, bring to boil, and cook until reduced and slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.

6. Stir in the chopped tarragon, the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and any juices that have accumulated on baking sheet and swirl to melt the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange chicken on a warmed platter, pour sauce over it, and garnish with the tarragon leaves.


TeaLady said...

Pretty straight forward. It looks delicious.

I think 2 or 3 teaspoons curry would be much better. Most people don't like a lot of curry flavor, but I like it stronger. You wouldn't want to share his Curry recipe would you. I really don't care for the ones I have found so far.

Jhonny walker said...

Thats how I like my chicken when I am in a rush. no hassle, straightforward but great tasting! My next thing on the list :)

natalia said...

Grear recipe !! I think you could easily augment the curry !!!

Kayte said...

Looks great,sounds great, recipe looks easy enough to follow...I NEED this book. On my Christmas Wish List near the top. Very near the top. Guess you will just need to make this a couple of more times so that you can figure out the spicing exactly and you will have one very fine keeper of a recipe to go to. Really like the photo.

Mary said...

Yum. That looks great. I just made the Ad Hoc lentil/sweet potato soup and that was great too.

Mary Ann said...

I think this sounds so yummy. I hadn't ever even thought of making curry powder- how fun!

And I have to say I like pounding chicken breast, especially when I am a little bit upset.

Deb in Hawaii said...

I love chicken and tarragon and the curry addition sounds wonderful--although I too would probably add a bit more. This looks delicious!

Jessica said...

No, there isn't a worse job than pounding chicken breast. Blugh, I hate it. But, it looks like you were rewarded with this lovely chicken! I am a huge fan of boneless skinless chicken breasts because they're so adaptable. Eventually I'll get the Ad Hoc cookbook, and then I can try this out!

NKP said...

Looks really good! I am always surprised when famous chefs' recipes end up bland. I love that you made your own curry powder.
Another book on the wishlist.. how soon do I need to buy it? :)