04 November, 2008

a perfect chicken dish (but it's ugly)

So I have no photograph for this dish, which is a reflection upon its inherent... ugliness. Any suggestions you have for making it pretty I will fall upon with gratitude. But it is sublime, and your family will sit up and beg. Make it tonight, do. I'm giving it a proper French title, but it's really roast chicken stuffed with mushrooms.

Poulet Roti aux Duxelles
(serves at least 4)

1 large organic roasting chicken
2 tbsp butter
6 closed-cap mushrooms, chopped fairly fine
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
good splash white wine
2 rashers bacon, diced (without fat)
sprinkle dried thyme, or 1 stalk fresh thyme leaves
100 grams goats cheese
extra slab butter
1 tbsp creme fraiche
tiny splash Marsala

Place your chicken in a large roasting dish lined with foil (MUCH easier cleanup). Now, in a medium skillet melt the butter and sweat the mushrooms, shallots and garlic until thoroughly soft and cooked through. Add the white wine and cook until wine is nearly absorbed. Remove to a bowl. In the same skillet, fry the bacon dice until cooked thoroughly, sprinkling with thyme as it cooks. Throw the bacon in the bowl with the mushroom mixture and sprinkle with the goats cheese, crumbled as best you can. Stir well. Now comes the slightly tricky part.

Without tearing the breast skin, lift it off the breast and spoon the mushroom-bacon mixture into the space between skin and breast. Shove it down as well as you can without breaking the skin, taking care not to separate the two breasts. Poke the mixture down on each side of the breast. Once you've exhausted the mixture, press down the mixture from the OUTSIDE of the skin, making sure it spreads as far as it can onto the breast.

Place a fair-ish slab of butter on top of the chicken breast and roast for 2 hours at 350 F, 180 C.

When the chicken is roasted, pour off the juices into a gravy separator and then cover the chicken with foil to rest. Pour the good bits of the gravy into a skillet and add the creme fraiche and Marsala. Just leave until you're JUST ready to eat.

Meanwhile mash your potatoes or whatever your side dish is, saute your side vegetables (we had a mix of red peppers and off-season asparagus, sorry). Then carve the chicken onto a warm plate, and simmer the gravy, whisking in the Marsala and creme fraiche. Pour the gravy over the slices of roast chicken. I promise you, this is divine.

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What I want to know is this: how can I make this pretty? The carved chicken was not especially pretty, sliced up. But can I tell you? My family devoured it, sneaking bites of the stuffing off each other's plates, acting like it was rationed. THAT is what you want when you're feeding people. But I'd welcome any suggestions on presentation.

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