Tip Tuesday: Stepping Out of Your Food Comfort Zone

Tip Tuesday

Do you remember this photo from yesterday?

That was the Chicken au Champagne (or Champy Chicken, as I called it) from Cooking with Curls.  It’s the fanciest dish I’ve ever made.  It used ingredients I rarely (if ever) use:  shallots, bone in chicken breasts, and fresh tarragon.  I love tarragon; I’ve only used the dried in the past in chicken salad (It makes a fabulous addition to it, by the way).

But this dish was totally out of my cooking comfort zone.  And, while Josh and Muffin are fairly okay with traveling this culinary adventure with me, I had my doubts that they would like it.

I did alter it some.  I added some cream to make the pan sauce more rich.  Yes.  I made a pan sauce.  Not a gravy.  A pan sauce.  (Something also out of my comfort zone)

I moved the dish from the stove top to the oven (also…you guessed it…out of my comfort zone).

Ultimately, this is a dish that I would even bypass in a restaurant as too fancy schmancy for my plate.  And my palate.

I guess I’m a simple girl at heart.

That being said, I really loved this chicken…and the sauce was fabulous!  I did as the website suggested and used my cast iron to house the chicken and pan sauce.

We served it, as you can tell above, with some roasted asparagus (drizzled and tossed with olive oil and white wine vinegar, as well as kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper), crescent rolls, and slices of tomato (to add a flair of red).

Sometimes, it’s important to break out of your culinary comfort zone.  Maybe there’s hope for me, after all.  Salted Caramel Turtle Cream Puffs, here I come!

Chicken au Champagne

(Heavily adapted from Cooking with Curls–see link above)

1 tablespoon olive oil

bone in chicken breasts (we had 2 huge ones in a package that I thought had 4-5 smaller ones…seriously that chicken must have been scary huge!)

salt and ground black pepper (to taste)

2 large shallots, minced

1 1/2 cups Extra Dry sparkling wine (I used Andre brand–and, since it didn’t come from the champagne region of France, it cannot legally be called champagne)

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used some from my frozen stash…baby bellas)

1/4 cup minced fresh tarragon

fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat (I used setting 6 on mine).  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Be surprised by the size of the breasts.  Open the champagne and slurp a fortifying glug and hope for the best (and no panic attacks!)

Add chicken to skillet and sear for three minutes on each side (Time it!).  Remove chicken and place on a plate.  Realize that it’s going to take a LOT longer in the oven then you planned.  (Seriously, the breasts had to be in excess of two pounds each!)

Add shallots.  Heat and stir for one minute.  (If they turn dark brown you have reached the point of no return.)  Deglaze with champagne (er…sparkling wine) and scrape the bottom of the pan to lift up all of the cooked chickeny and shallotty bits (in other words…deglaze).  When the wine begins to bubble, slowly swirl and stir in the cream.

Return the chicken to the pan.  Drizzle the sauce over the sauce and place in the oven.  Bake until thoroughly cooked.

While the chicken is enjoying the oven-wine-cream sauce sauna, heat the butter in a large nonstick pan.  Add the mushrooms and cook for five minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the tarragon.  Squeeze one lemon through a small strainer into the mushroom pan and stir to loosen the sauce slightly.  (I used one small lemon.)

Remove chicken from the oven and the pan.  Stir in the mushrooms.  Slice chicken into thin slices.  Serve with rice with sauce (and sauce and mushrooms over chicken).

Muffin claims to like the chicken but not the mushrooms (although he loves mushrooms).

Muffin Approved

What have you cooked out of your comfort zone?


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