POULET AU FROMAGE (FRENCH)
Along with a couple of fine White Burgundies over the past two nights, I've been turning to Mireille Johnston's excellent Burgundian cookbook, "The Cuisine of the Rose," for inspiration as to compatible dinner entrees.
Last night it was a classic preparation that no cardiologist would ever approve, "Poulet au Fromage," a delicious chicken dish that starts with a sautee and ends up baked with Gruyere and cream. I substituted condensed skim milk and saved a couple of hundred calories, but this is still rich stuff ... and it made a fantastic match with the '93 Verget Puligny-Montrachet "Sous le Puits."
As usual, I couldn't stick exactly to the recipe but took it as a starting point and changed a little of this, a little of that ...
Cut up a whole fryer -- I cut out and discarded the back, separated the legs, thighs and wings, and cut each breast in half to make a total of 10 pieces, plenty for us and the cats with some leftovers. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large black-iron skillet (big enough to hold all the chicken in one layer), and sautee over high heat until it starts to brown, then reduce heat to medium-low, sprinkle with salt, pepper and a rational amount of cayenne and continue sauteeing, uncovered, turning occasionally for about 45 minutes.
While it's cooking, get all the sauce ingredients ready: Grate enough Gruyere cheese to make one cup, and grate about 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg into it. Grate or finely chop enough ginger to make 1 tablespoon; mince enough garlic to make 1 tablespoon. Have ready 1/2 cup of dry white wine and 1/2 cup cream (or condensed skim milk, as I did, if you want to cut a few calories out). Stir 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or Gulden's Spicy Brown) into the cream. Have available about 1/2 cup bread crumbs and 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
Remove the chicken to an ovenproof casserole and pour off almost all the accumulated fat from the skillet. Put it back on heat and briefly cook the minced garlic and ginger in the remaining fat. As soon as it starts to cook, pour in the white wine and stir rapidly, scraping all the tasty browned bits off the bottom. Lower heat to the simmer and add the cream, mustard, and cheese. As soon as the cheese melts, pour the contents of the skillet over the chicken pieces in the casserole. Top with the bread crumbs and Parmigiano, and pop into a 375F oven for 15 or 20 minutes until it's bubbly and the cheese on top is brown. Serve immediately. With bread and a salad and a bottle of the best White Burgundy or Chardonnay you can afford, it makes a memorable Burgundian meal.