Sunday, February 3, 2008

Shiitake-Crusted Chicken & Mushrooms

Sorting through recipes the other day I came across about 10 recipes (out of the 3-inch high stack) that I would like to fix real soon. I set those aside (this recipe among them). The rest got filed into my recipe binders.

Filing is one of my least favorite activities, along with ironing and gardening. Back when I was a new college grad and went to work in a job that required me to file now and then, the filing piled up for months on end. The same thing happens here at home now, 40+ years later. I mean, I'm retired, for goodness' sake, and still the filing doesn't get done. As bills are paid I save the statements. I used to file all of them regularly, every month, then when tax time came around I'd pull them all out for the next year. But a couple of years ago I had a busy year and the entire YEAR of statements ended up in one single pile. Uh, do you want to know how high it was? Nah, you don't really, do you? Well, it was about 18 inches. Since we own two homes and two rental homes, we have a sizable amount of paper that traverses our household from mailbox to a sorting area in our garage, to piles for him and her (90% goes into mine), then they get dispersed to the pile, or other places for saving. I'm the one who pays the bills, saves important paperwork, does the tax prep work too. I've had to buy two 4-drawer file cabinets for our garage just to store old records. But ever since that year when I didn't file, I don't file bills at all anymore. They just accumulate into an 18-inch stack. Then I sort and toss a good part of them.

Recipes are another to-file item. And no, they're not even in the same room as the bill-paying department. I read a lot of magazines, and clip a lot of recipes. I try really hard to only clip recipes I truly think I'm going to prepare. But still, every month I have many new recipes I think I'm going to make. At what age I wonder will I stop doing this? At what point in my life will I decide I have enough recipes, that I don't need more? At what age will I decide I don't need more cookbooks? Same problem. One part of me says I'll probably continue to clip recipes as long as I'm still able to cook and have a kitchen to cook in. And I'll likely be interested in cookbooks for the same reason. When I'm gone, probably my kids will look at my files of untried recipes (of which there are multitudes) and toss every one of them in the trash. What appeals to one person doesn't always appeal to another. Well, philosophical things to ponder.

Well, so here we are at this recipe. It had been hanging out in a stack of recipe clippings for oh, let's say it's been 9 years. (I have filed in that interim, but I don't know why this particular recipe hadn't been. A quandry.) It's from a 1996 Gourmet Magazine. And the other day I decided I really, REALLY had to do something about the pile. So, I sorted all the recipes into category piles (appetizers, salads, sides, pork, breads, etc.), then filed them away.

The project took hours. And hours. My back was a-killin' me when I was done. But, at least it's DONE. And this recipe came popping up to the top. I had all the ingredients (particularly important are the shiitake mushrooms), and it didn't take too long to make. It was good. Very good. I probably will make this again.

Here are my breading/dipping pans. Available from Williams-Sonoma, they have been a great addition to my kitchen equipment. They come as a set of three, and one edge hooks onto the next one, so the grouping stays in place as you work. In this case I dipped the chicken breasts in flour, then in egg, then in the shiitake mushroom and panko mixture before browning them very briefly, then baking for a short time in the oven. While the chicken bakes (about 10 minutes), you can whip up the mushroom sauce.

Cook's Notes: Next time, I'll make more sauce - it's amazing how little sauce you end up with once mushrooms cook down. If you don't have white wine (like vermouth), use sherry instead. This recipe had been posted to Epicurious, and a comment by several people included a suggestion to chop up the shiitake mushrooms more than you think - the recipe says coarsely. I probably diced them and they were fine. They need to adhere to the chicken, and if they're too big they simply won't stay attached to the chicken when you brown the chicken in the skillet. I also added a bit of water to the sauce (to make more), then ended up sprinkling a smidge of flour into the sauce (from the breading pan) to help it thicken up. Don't overcook the sauce - it's better if the mushrooms still have some definition.

Shiitake-Crusted Chicken with Creamed Mushrooms
Recipe: Gourmet Magazine, April, 1996
Servings: 4
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms -- stems discarded and caps chopped coarse (about 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs -- fine grind [I used panko]
1/3 cup all-purpose flour -- seasoned with salt and pepper
1 large egg -- beaten lightly
2 whole skinless boneless chicken breasts -- (about 1 1/2 pounds) halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot -- minced (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms -- stems discarded and caps chopped coarse
1/2 cup dry white wine [or sherry]
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary -- chopped, or a rounded 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled [I used thyme instead]
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Prepare coating: In a shallow baking pan drizzle oil over shiitakes and toss to coat. Roast mushrooms, stirring once or twice, 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden. Keep oven at 450°F. Mince roasted shiitake and in a shallow bowl stir together with bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Have ready in separate shallow bowls seasoned flour and egg. Working with one chicken breast at a time, dredge in flour, shaking off excess, and dip in egg, letting excess drip off. Coat chicken with mushroom mixture, gently knocking off excess, and transfer to a plate. Chicken may be prepared up to this point 2 hours ahead and chilled, uncovered, on a rack.
3. In a 12-inch non-stick skillet heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté chicken until golden, about 1 minute on each side. Transfer chicken with tongs to baking pan and roast in middle of oven 10 minutes, or until just cooked through. [If you use thick chicken breasts, it may take longer to bake.]
4. For Creamed Mushrooms: Make creamed mushrooms while chicken is roasting. Wipe out skillet and cook shallot in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add shiitake and salt and pepper to taste and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, until mushrooms are softened and browned lightly. Stir in wine, vinegar, and rosemary and boil until all liquid is evaporated. Add cream and simmer, stirring, until thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Season mixture with salt and pepper. Serve chicken with creamed mushrooms.

Per Serving (assuming you consume all the dredging flour, dredging egg, which you don't): 746 Calories; 27g Fat (31.5% calories from fat); 41g Protein; 91g Carbohydrate; 12g Dietary Fiber; 170mg Cholesterol; 198mg Sodium. Exchanges: 5 1/2 Grain(Starch); 4 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 5 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
Printer-friendly recipe, click title at top.

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