The Multi-purpose Mirepoix

Onions. Carrots. Celery. As you may have learned from my recent soup adventures, these guys are best buds. Ladies and gentlemen, the Mirepoix gang:

Don’t pass them by for the rough-and-tough guys, though. They have a sensitive side too. This recipe proves that.

As you may recall, part of the reasoning behind my soup project is to use up the carrots and celery that otherwise sit around in my fridge, sad and dejected (and eventually rubbery) after I use one stick each in a recipe here and there. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I now have carrots and celery at the ready. What I was pleased to discover today, however, was a simple, mirepoix-based cream sauce that is sophisticated enough for Sunday supper.

Thank you, Julia Child.

It’s called Supremes de Volaille a l’Ecossaise, or chicken breasts with diced aromatic vegetables and cream, and it’s a variation on her master recipe for cooking chicken breast with cream. What I especially loved about it? It’s so easy. What else? The sauce is delicious. It’s hard to go wrong with a wine-laced cream sauce.

I made ours on a Sunday and served with some garlicky kale and roasted potatoes, but this is simple enough that you could definitely make it on a weeknight, no trouble at all.

Chicken Breasts with Diced Aromatic Vegetables and Cream (from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child)
Yum Factor: Alex – 8.1, Jessalyn – 8

Serves 2.

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

– 1 smallish carrot, finely diced
– 1 stalk celery, finely diced
– 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
– 2.5 tablespoons butter
2. Melt the butter in a dutch oven. Cook the vegetables over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes, seasoning with a dash of salt.

– 2 chicken breasts
3. Meanwhile, season your chicken with a sprinkle of salt and a gentle drizzle of lemon juice. Also, cut a circle of parchment paper to fit inside your pot and butter one side of it.

4. After 10 minutes, add your chicken to the pot with the mirepoix and turn them over a couple times to coat them in the mirepoix and butter. Once they’re nestled in, cover everybody up with the buttered parchment (butter side down), close the lid, and throw in the oven for 8-10 minutes. (Julia says 6 for a bone-in breast, but 5 minutes wasn’t quite enough for my boneless breasts, so use your judgement).

– 1/4 cup chicken stock
– 1/4 cup white wine or port (I used Marsala wine…)
– 1/2 cup cream
5. Return the pot to the stovetop. Remove the chicken and set aside on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Add the stock and wine to the pot and simmer over medium high heat. You want it to reduce down and get syrupy.

 

6. Whisk in the cream slowly and let it simmer for a bit until thickened slightly. Re-season with salt and pepper (and/or a little squeeze of lemon juice) to taste.

After a couple minutes, plate your chicken and generously spoon the sauce over the chicken, garnishing with a little parsley, if you wish.

Bingo.

Now, don’t be too harsh with comments on my plating. It’s true, I could have gone a bit finer with my dice when cutting the veggies. It’s also true that I chopped up some fresh parsley to garnish but forgot to add it to the dish before serving. Which is why it looks like something’s missing in the photo above. But man did it taste good. Sort of like inside-out chicken soup, as Alex noted. Inside-out chicken soup that has graduated to the next level of sophistication. Bye-bye, boring chicken dinners. I could eat this every day.

(And hey, if chopping veggies isn’t your thing, you can follow the recipe exactly, except instead of cooking the mirepoix first, you’ll just add the chicken to the foaming butter before proceeding. And your final cream sauce will obviously be less chunky. So voila! Two recipes in one post!)

Oh, the buttered parchment. I’ve seen this several times in Madame Child’s recipes. But I skip around in the cookbook so much, so I’ve yet to find a thorough explanation. As far as I can tell, it helps to keep the chicken moist (and it really works) and produces a tender, poached-like piece of meat, so do try to include that step if you pursue this dish.

What dishes do you turn to when you’re feeling fancy? 

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