Since poultry is such a popular form of protein, I am always working to create recipes that offer variety and big, savory flavors without too much fuss. Sometimes the inspiration is found in classics, like duxelle. But, before you turn away at the sound of this French term, trust me–this is an easy technique that you can use often–with beef, pork, and with chicken. Duxelle is a very fine chop of mushrooms and shallots, prepared quickly with a few pulses of the food processor, and sautéed in butter. You may find duxelle coating a beef tenderloin beneath the pastry crust in a fine restaurant, or tucked under the skin of a roast chicken.
In this case today, duxelle is tucked under the skin of some plump, economical chicken leg quarters, which are then pan seared and then roasted in the oven until they are tender and succulent. The chicken quarters give up their juices that are then combined with some stock, hard cider, crème fraiche and mustard for a quick and flavorful pan sauce, which literally takes about 5 minutes while the chicken rests before serving.
The side dish this evening is a favorite of mine, a brown and red rice pilaf with chopped dried apricots, leeks and pine nuts. This is also a very easy preparation, and it is one of those recipes I love, because you can vary the flavoring agents. You don’t have any apricots on hand, but have dried cranberries? Wonderful! You don’t have leeks but have sweet onions? Great! Pine nuts are pricey–you can use slivered almonds.
Chicken Stuffed with Duxelle, with Crème Fraiche and Mustard Pan Sauce
Total cooking time, 50 minutes
16 ounces fresh mushrooms of your choice
2 large shallots
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Place the mushrooms and shallot into the food processor and pulse just 3-4 times. That’s it! You will have a finely chopped mixture. Do not over-process, or you will have a wet paste created by the mushrooms.
Met the butter in a 12 inch shallow range-top to oven skillet, and cook the duxelle over medium-high heat, seasoning with the salt, pepper and thyme, and stirring for about 5 minutes. What a wonderful, earthy, buttery perfume this gives off! Remove the duxelle to a bowl to cool down.
You need one piece of chicken per serving, and you can use chicken breasts if you prefer, or a combination of large thighs and breast halves, if you wish. Trim away any excess fat.
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons canola oil
salt, pepper, thyme
1 cup hard cider or white wine
1 cup chicken stock
7 ounces crème fraiche
2 heaping soup spoons Dijon mustard
Add the butter and oil to the same 12 inch skillet and heat over medium-high heat til sizzling. Loosen the skin of the chicken pieces and place 1/4 of the duxelles mixture under the skin of each piece. The skin holds it in place nicely.
Place the chicken into the sizzling skillet and brown the stuffed side for about 10 minutes to get some browning action. Them flip the pieces with stuffed side up and place in a 400 degree F oven for about 40 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer registers 165.
Add 1 cup of hard cider and place the skillet on medium-high heat, stirring up any caramelization in the pan. Cook and stir for just a few minutes. Add 1 cup chicken broth or stock. Cook til bubbling and then stir in the crème fraiche and mustard, whisking until smooth, just a few minutes will do. Initially, the crème fraiche may appear curdled, but with whisking, it becomes smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning. I strained the sauce to remove the brown bits just for a more attractive, smoother appearance. Spoon some over the chicken and serve the remainder in a sauce boat.
The flavors of this dish are rich with browned, roasted chicken, earthy mushrooms and shallot, the herbaceous thyme, and the sweet-savory pan sauce with subtle apple from the cider and spice or Dijon mustard. The chicken is tender and succulent.
Rice Pilaf with Apricots, Leeks and Pine Nuts
1 Tablespoon butter
1 large leek, sliced thinly
16 dried apricots, chopped coarsely
1 cup mixed red and brown rice
2 cups chicken stock
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons pine nuts
Sauté the leeks in butter in a deep 12 inch skillet for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except the pine nuts and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and lower the heat to low and cook for about 65 minutes, or until the rice is tender and liquid has absorbed. Add the pine nuts and fluff with fork. Serve. This is one of those slightly sweet-savory dishes due to the use of the mild, sweet leeks, dried fruit, thyme, and then the nutty flavors of the rice and pine nuts. This is a great side dish for poultry or pork.
I would love to hear your creative ways with poultry for weekday dinners, or any comments that you have about these recipes. The comments box is just below this post.