“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”
— Julia Child
Before the French title of this post scares you away, please let me just say that this is a great chicken recipe, and it is quite simple to prepare. In fact, it is fabulous. Really. Please keep reading!
As a brief introduction, I visited the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in the Spring of 2009, including Julia Child’s kitchen that was moved there from her home in Massachusetts. (This is just one of many great displays there, including the Star Spangled Banner. That is just a “must see,” too!)
Truth be told, though, I was afraid of this woman and her cooking. I was afraid to even attempt any of her recipes. I’m not exactly sure why, except that my mother never cooked any of her recipes either. But after seeing this marvelous display at the Smithsonian, reading more about Julia and her cooking, and feeling that I might be missing something by not attempting to cook some recipes by such a beloved national icon, I finally decided to buy her first cookbook. I am so glad that I did. My goodness, I wish I had done it a long time ago.
This is now my favorite chicken recipe, compliments of Julia Child… “Supremes de Volaille a Blanc,” or “Breast of Chicken with Cream.” (Yes, cream!) The recipe is found in her classic cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and over this past year, the book has become a favorite of mine. I selected the variation with mushrooms, the “Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons,” or “Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Cream,” and I also added a few tiny carrots as well, with those being just a personal preference.
I have prepared this recipe so often that my book pretty much opens to this page now on its’ own… page 268. I no longer worry about splatters on the pages because it’s just too late for that. I guess that is the sign of a good cookbook.
What stands out for me in this recipe is the ease of preparation, the perfect moistness and tenderness of the chicken, and the unbelievable flavor of the sauce. It is just a little piece of “heaven on earth!”
This recipe is among easiest main dish recipes I have ever cooked from scratch. It is a classic, and I have not cooked it one single time over the past year that my family and friends have not just raved over it. I think this is also the first recipe that Julia prepared on her cooking show in 1963, but I’m having trouble confirming that right now.
The selection of chicken breasts is very important, so be sure to look for large, good quality boneless and skinless breasts for best results. I tried this recipe one time with smaller chicken breasts, and it just wasn’t as good. So, please don’t skimp on the chicken. I actually buy Tyson brand in the freezer section at our local Sam’s Club because they are consistently the best quality of any I have found in our area. I also prefer a beaujolais wine for the sauce when I have it on hand, but that’s just me. Julia states to thoroughly dry the chicken before proceeding with the rest of the steps, and paper towels will suffice for that task. In fact, I now follow this step when cooking any meat now because I like the end result much better. I also use a large enameled cast iron dutch oven when cooking this particular recipe, since it transfers from stove top to oven in the same dish. The cast iron pot also works well for the sauce preparation.
Here is the final product! Yes, that is two cups of cream in that sauce. (I doubled the recipe because there would be a battle over the leftovers if I didn’t.) I swear it is even better the next day, but who can wait that long to eat this amazing dish!
One of the wonderful things about Mastering The Art of French Cooking is simply the way it is written. A basic recipe is given and variations are then listed immediately afterward, without having to repeat the “core” recipe. Such is the case with this recipe, too. There are two more variations that I need to try, but so far, I keep coming back to this one. I will try the others soon, though, especially the variation with paprika and onions.
I always serve Julia’s Braised Rice with this chicken dish, and that recipe can be found on page 532 of the cookbook. In fact, I have not used my trusty rice cooker once since I discovered this extremely simple, one-skillet method of preparation. The rice cooks in the same amount of time as the rice cooker, with only about five minutes of preparation before the cooking time, and it comes out perfectly for me every time in my large, non-stick skillet with a clear, tight-fitting lid. The final product is a distinctly more flavorful rice with a more pleasing consistency.
The chicken recipe can be found in the cookbook, as well as by searching for it online, and I highly encourage you to add this cookbook to your collection, if you do not already have it. I think you will be glad you did. I actually ordered my copy of Mastering The Art of French Cooking from Amazon and got a great price with free shipping when I added another item that I wanted or for free with an Amazon Prime membership.
Please make this wonderful dish for dinner sometime soon. You will be a hero… or heroine… or just plain loved for your efforts! 😉
“Learn from your mistakes, be fearless and have fun!” Julia gives good advice, doesn’t she?