The Pre-Dinner Dinner

Chicken in a Tarragon, Champagne, Mustard and Shallot Sauce
The redoubtable Mrs. E and I are pleased to be hosting a soirée tomorrow night. We will serve a Greek dinner for eight at 8:00. Our guests are all friends and two of them will have just returned from a fortnight at Lake Como where, I’m sure, they dined very well. So tomorrow’s menu, while not elaborate, is a little complicated. If only because of the bechamel. Consequently, cooking something involved tonight doesn’t sound like much fun.

Now, we could order out. But we’re very conscious of our middle-aged waistlines. Especially before a party. So what’s a guy to do? Take a page from the easy and elegant cookbook. Tonight’s dinner will be fashioned from a few things that are lying around and have to be used up: some defrosted chicken tenderloins, an open bottle of champagne and a shallot.

Chicken in a Tarragon, Champagne, Mustard and Shallot Sauce

4 good sized chicken tenders
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp of dijon mustard
1 glass of sparkling wine
1 TSP of milk or heavy cream
1 TSP of butter
1 tsp of dried tarragon
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 TBS of good quality Olive Oil.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet (I love using my grandmother’s cast iron skillet as it holds heat very well.) Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides and add to the skillet to brown on both sides over high heat. Remove to a plate.

Add the tarragon to the pan. Add the mustard and some more salt and pepper. When you notice the fragrance of the tarragon, deglaze the pan with the sparkling wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits that have stuck to the pan. Add in the milk or cream and swirl in the butter. Cook for a moment over low heat to let the flavours meld. Add the chicken back into the sauce and turn to coat both sides. Heat through, plate and serve. Serves two with a hearty salad and a side dish like steamed broccoli or green beans as a side.

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2 Responses to The Pre-Dinner Dinner

  1. Nicholas says:

    When do you add the shallots? My fiance and I tried your meal last night, and we added the shallots after browning the chicken but before we deglazed.

    Given that the fiance is a regular Dr. Frankenstein in the kitchen who views every recipe as a challenge to her creativity I think we did ok. It tasted pretty good, and now she’s looking at your site for some more ideas.

  2. Oops, another eagle-eyed reader to thank. You and your fiancée did right. I wilted the shallots after the chicken and left them in during the deglazing. (I don’t think I’ve ever stuck to a recipe, so feel free to improve, improvise and generally let creativity reign!)

    Glad you enjoyed it. Next time I will relate the ever-clever Mrs. E’s shortcuts for making delicious Moussaka. Dinner party tested and approved just this last weekend.

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