Last week’s dish, Pintade a la Cevenale (Guinea Hen with Mushrooms and Chestnuts) was another challenge for me. I couldn’t get guinea hen or chestnuts. But, the dish got very good reviews from the rest of the group, and how could it not? Red wine, mushrooms, shallots, butter, herbs all say delicious to me.
Spending money on gourmet ingredients or cooking just to try a recipe has recently become a challenge. But creativity finds a way to look at a recipe, improvise and still come out learning something. I stayed very close to the cast and recipe, except guinea hen was played by boneless chicken, pearl onions played by a diced white onion, and the chestnuts refusing to come out in the spring were played by walnuts. The mushrooms, red wine and shallots played themselves. Fresh sprigs of thyme appeared instead of bouquet garni. Of course the butter is always butter and there is never a substitute for butter in anything remotely french, but I used less than called for. I left out the bacon, but I can see how that would have been a great layer of flavor.
The mushrooms and onions were sliced and sautéed in butter with a splash of red wine, while the chicken was pounded, dredged in flour and sautéed in another pan. Once the chicken was cooked, I used the same pan to soften the shallots in some butter, and then added some very very good cabernet. I used only thyme as the herb, and of course, salt the pepper. The wine was added to the shallots, reduced and then I just added toasted walnuts and the mushrooms and onions.
I served this with with roasted red potatoes that went into the oven at the beginning of prep time, with a spray of olive oil, salt and pepper at 400 degrees.
Since this was made on the fly, what did I learn tonight?
Coarsely chopped walnuts would be better than whole walnuts.
Make MORE wine sauce, by adding in some chicken stock.
Shallots are especially wonderful in a red wine sauce.
I started this dinner at 6:15 tonight and it was ready by 7:00, with just about 3 minutes of daylight left for a very quick picture. Moving this quickly is much more American than french. I even had time to make a salad.
This was a delicious dinner and a fun cooking hour. I’m hoping to have the opportunity to leisurely stand in the kitchen and replicate some exact recipes from Le Cordon Bleu at Home, but, I will say that already it has been a very good learning experience.
Let me encourage you to get into the kitchen and cook things you have no experience in and also to create your own dishes. Both are very important to the culinary learning process.
Recipe (Inspired by and adapted from Pintade a la Cevenole from Le Cordon Bleu at Home
- 2 boneless chicken breast, pounded, cut into 4 pieces
- flour for dredging
- 1/2 white onion sliced or pearl onions
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 6 sprigs of thyme
- 2 cups red wine
- 1 cup chicken stock (Ihad left this out, but would add it in)
- 1/3 cup toasted walnuts
- 4 T butter, divided
- 3 shallots finely diced
- olive oil
- salt pepper
- Dry chicken. Pound thin with meat pounder. Season with salt and pepper.
- Dredge chicken in flour, saute in olive a 5 minutes each side. Set Aside, keep warm.
- Saute sliced onion and mushroom in 2 T butter. Add 2 sprigs of thyme, salt, pepper.
- Set Aside.Toast walnuts in onion for 5 minutes.
- In same pan that cooked chicken, add 2T butter, shallots until softened
- Add in 2 cups of wine, and (1 cup chicken stock) reduce by half.
- Stir in onion, mushrooms and walnuts, toss.
- Serve over chicken with roasted potatoes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.