08 May 2010

Lighten It Up: Poulet Sauté Aux Herbes de Provence

Shortly after I moved to Germany, I had the chance to watch Julie and Julia in English. (The movie theater in town hasn't shown a movie in its original language since.) I had the fire in me, and I was determined to make a Julia Child recipe. But it was September, and hot, and there was no way I was going to make Boeuf Bourguignon. So I set out to find something a bit less heavy that didn't use my oven. With no air conditioning here, I wasn't about to turn on the oven for hours.

I came across a selection of Julia Child recipes on Epicurious.com that had been featured in the August 2009 issue of Bon Appetit. The ingredients were simple: butter, chicken, herbs; so I knew Hubby would like it.

When I brought my bird home, I noticed that the chickens here don't get plucked quite a thoroughly as they do at the chain grocery stores in the US, so I skinned the chicken when I cut it up (if anyone knows a trick for getting the skin off the wings, please let me know... I have yet to be able to accomplish that task!).

Poulet Sauté aux Herbes de Provence
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 3- to 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, rinsed, patted dry
1 teaspoon dried thyme or savory
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground in spice mill or with mortar and pestle
3 unpeeled garlic cloves
2/3 cup dry white wine or 1/2 cup dry white vermouth

2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon dry white wine or dry white vermouth
2 to 3 tablespoons butter, cut into 1-inch cubes (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, fresh fennel fronds, or fresh parsley (optional)

For chicken:
Melt butter in large wide pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, if necessary, add chicken pieces and cook only until golden, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer chicken breast pieces to plate. Sprinkle remaining chicken pieces in pot with half each of thyme, basil, and fennel seeds, then salt and pepper. Add garlic to pot. Cover pot; reduce heat to medium and cook 8 to 9 minutes. Sprinkle chicken breasts with remaining thyme, basil, and fennel seeds, then salt and pepper. Return breast pieces to pot; baste chicken with butter in pot. Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through, turning and basting occasionally, about 15 minutes. Transfer to hot platter; cover.

Remove peel from garlic cloves; mash garlic with spoon or fork in same pot. Add 2/3 cup wine to juices in pot; boil until liquid is reduced to 3/4 cup, occasionally scraping bottom of pan, about 8 minutes. Pour reduced pan juices into measuring cup and reserve for sauce.

For sauce:
Off heat, whisk egg yolks in heavy small saucepan until beginning to thicken. Whisk in lemon juice and 1 tablespoon wine. Gradually whisk reserved pan juices into eggs, 1 teaspoon at a time. Set sauce over very low heat and whisk constantly until warm and slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. If desired, whisk in butter, 1 piece at a time. Remove from heat. Stir in herbs, if desired. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.

Obviously, that's not the lighter side of this recipe. But spring has sprung and my husband and I feel like we are waking up from a long winter nap. It's actually warm enough to go outside now (okay, so all week we haven't hit 50, but when I made this recipe it had gone all the way up to 65). We've been getting out and hiking in the hills around Jena, though those activities will be put on hold for the next 6 weeks as Hubby's fibula heals. Either way, it's spring and I wanted something a little lighter. But I wanted Poulet Saute aus Herbes de Provence. Normally, I just don't make the sauce, but for you I wanted to stay true to the heart of the recipe, and that required a sauce. Now, I'm not saying this recipe is completely heart healthy now, but it is definitely lighter!

Lighten it up: chicken
Reduce butter to 2T, add 2T good tasting olive oil.
Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts 

Lighten it up: sauce
Remove the chicken from the pot. Remove all but 1T pan drippings. Remove peel from garlic cloves; mash garlic with spoon or fork in same pot. Whisk in 1T flour and cook the roux Add 2/3 cup wine and 2/3 cup chicken broth to juices in pot; boil until liquid is reduced to 3/4 cup, occasionally scraping bottom of pan, about 8 minutes. Serve the chicken with roasted asparagus and broccoli, and let others determine how much sauce they want (in Hubby's case: none, in my case: lots!).

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