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How I accidentally made a James Beard nominated recipe (sort of)
Previous | Next by ben 28 March, 2014 - 6:57 AM

A week or so ago, I was at home, cooking dinner for myself as usual, and I wanted to make chicken Madeira (something along the lines of this, but, simpler), and realized that I didn't have any Madeira - since I'd brought this awesome bottle to my brother's and hadn't replaced it*.

So, making do, as one does, I decided to use sherry... it's different, but not so different that I'd have to change too many things, right? I also had some mushrooms to use up, so I figured, great way to add flavor to my pan sauce, and "loosen up those brown bits" that like, every tv chef ever has told you to do. So, I pounded out the chicken, gave it a little flour and thyme and of course salt and pepper, got some garlic going in the pan with some oil.

Yes, always, ALWAYS smash up some garlic and heat up your oil with it, if you're sautéing just about anything savory. Why would you NOT do this? Side note, why would you pay cash money to someone else to put garlic in your oil for you? I just don't get that...

Anyway, chicken is seasoned, put it in the pan, brown it on both sides, take it to a plate to rest a bit (and hopefully give you some juices for your sauce later) and throw in some more fat to your hot pan (personally, i like butter when sautéing mushrooms, I find that oil makes the mushrooms to... greasy? but whatever blows your hair back), garlic (of course) then the mushrooms, season well and let them go.

While this was going on, i was contemplating my sauce. Still no Madeira? nope, still no Madeira... ok, sherry it is. What's good with sherry? a little lemon juice goes nicely, some more fresh thyme (it was sitting in my fridge, still fresh, and begging to be used before it gave in to whatever that fungus is that I constantly find on my 3 week old herbs that I have forgotten about), and hey, let's actually use a couple of lemon slices, we can do something "presentation-y" for once! Ok, contemplation done, been stirring the mushrooms while they dehydrate themselves and scrape up the meat on the pan, let's get to the sauce! So I removed the mushrooms to my plate.

(OFF THE HEAT) I poured in maybe a quarter cup of sherry and all of the juices that collected around my chicken breast, then back on the heat I gave that a quick stir to make sure nothing was still stuck in the pan. I tossed in a couple of sprigs of thyme and my lemon slices and then (gently!) put the chicken breast back in to finish cooking and get some of that flavor from the sauce while it reduced. Finally, mushrooms on the plate, chicken on the mushrooms and a little decoration, and boom! I had apparently just essentially made "Salisbury Chicken", without knowing it... since I'd never heard of this site before. Cut to today, and I find out upwave is one of 3 James Beard Foundation award nominees in its category for 2014!

I feel pretty happy about that, overall. And yes, it did turn out quite tasty. I mean, it's garlic, butter, lemon, thyme, mushrooms and alcohol, how could it not be delicious?

oh yeah, the * - That Madeira really is awesome... it's the first one I ever had that was eminently drinkable by itself. I've had several converts along the way with that bottle, so I HIGHLY recommend it. It's a bit pricey, but it will last you quite a long time, and it's very worth it.

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