Every now and then, I’ll receive a catalog in the mail from Sur La Table or another homegoods store and they’ll have a photo of a recipe exclusively listed on their website that looks so damn delicious that I scratch my dinner plans for that evening and make that particular dish. It doesn’t happen very often, as usually I’ll simply tear our the recipe and keep it in my super- secret recipe folder and make it later when I’m looking for inspiration.
When I saw this poulet a la créme recipe, I was quite excited for a couple of reasons; I had all the ingredients stashed away in the refrigerator and I’ve had this bottle of Pinot Noir that I’ve been dying to open up. Yeah, I know, I just said I had a bottle of Pinot Noir that I wanted to drink.
I talk a lot of smack about Pinot Noir, mostly because a lot of it tastes like crap in my opinion. And by crap I mean it tastes like you split your lip open and inhaled a bunch of dirt at the same time. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? Well, there are times when the mineral flavors of a Pinot Noir can really benefit a certain dish—anything with earthy mushrooms for example is usually enhanced by an earthy Pinot Noir or Burgundy.
Despite the creamy sauce this dish is based on, I found the flavors were really showcased by the earthiness of the wine. Not that the dish wasn’t appetizing without the wine, because it was quite enjoyable. I simply found that the earthiness of the mushrooms were somewhat subdued without the wine.
For the average wine drinker, you might think all Pinot Noir tastes the same. For a long time, I naively thought the same thing until I forced myself to get out there and taste as many Pinot Noirs as possible. It’s safe to assume there are four styles of Pinot Noir that are readily available: light & fruity, smooth & supple, earthy & spicy, and finally, big & bold. I’m not going to lie, I definitely gravitate towards the last two mentioned as they are more compatible with my personal palate and preferences. If you tend to prefer light & fruity or smooth & supple, for this particular recipe take a walk on the wild side and go out of your comfort zone. Look for something from the Willamette Valley in Oregon as there’s been an abundance of earthy Pinots popping up recently that are quite appealing.
Back to the recipe: when I stumble across a recipe using skinless legs or thighs, I prefer to sear the meat with the skin on to get some extra flavor in the sauce and I feel for this recipe, it made the sauce quite a bit silkier. Silkier sauce means it’s more delicious served over some kind of starch, like basmati rice, pasta or my preference, mashed potatoes.
Speaking of mashed potatoes, that reminds me of the impending holiday season. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter as we’ll be sending out an exclusive pumpkin and wine pairing cheat sheet on the first Tuesday of September.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), skin removed (about 2 ½ pounds skinned)
- 8 mushrooms (about 6 ounces), washed and sliced
- 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Over high heat, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the chicken and brown on each side.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan, and coat them with the flour along with the chicken. Stir in the wine and water. Bring to a boil and add the salt and pepper. Cover and reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.
- Add the cream, increase the heat and boil uncovered for about 1 minute.
- Serve and sprinkle tarragon or parsley on top, if desired.