A Recipe from the Castle
Mmm, wine. Mmm, Il Raggio del Sole, a most delicious muscat from Castello di Amorosa. Mmm, this delicious recipe that uses said muscat that was so yummy, I’m glad I took pictures to blog about it:
Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Muscat Sauce
(And some to drink, let’s SO not forget that!)
What we’re going for, ready to take to the table:
Find said recipe here, on the Castle Website, or look at the lovely pictures below first to get your mouth watering. It’s an easy recipe.
Assemble the ingredients! (My mise, below). Four chicken breasts and mallet, 1/4 cup flour in a pyrex tray for dredging, 1 tbsp cream, 4 tblsp butter (not shown), 1/4 cup Il Raggio (plus bottle for later), one cup of halved red seedless grapes, 1 tbsp chopped tarragon and 1 tbsp chopped chives in separate dishes, and naturally, laptop with recipe. It’s really nice to have everything ready and prepped before cooking.
Figure out what you’re going to serve it with (rice, pasta, etc) and have that raring to go to. This
A closer look at the produce:
And the cream – I took it off the top of my cream-top whole milk. Currently trying out Strauss Creamery’s organic and creamy goodness. It’s not bad, and has an interesting mild flavor from the coastal grazing of the cows. I think I prefer the taste of Clover, though that’s just my personal opinion. (Not to mention the price difference.) It was a fun treat. Anyways, that cream is thick, like a spread, so I added a splash of the milk and beat it until it got the consistency of whipping cream. here you can see it’s still clearly a lump:
And in its whipped form:
First up: abusing the chicken to 1/4 inch of it’s former life. I really stopped at about a 1/2 inch thickness, even if it means a longer cooking time. These cuts were beastly, and I was starting to break up the muscle fiber.
My secret though: a ziplock bag. Most people use plastic wrap, but I find it sometimes clings too much and is therefore harder to reuse for subsequent cuts. A single ziplock is much smoother, and can help shape/contain the cut if you need to.
Next, I dredged the breasts – coating them with the flour – before frying. I like this bake dish for dredging. It’s just the right shape and size. I left the breasts on the cutting board to help transport them to the stove. It’s the simple things, and better than stacking them on a plate.
Next, divvy up the butter. Two tablespoons is for the chicken and two for the sauce, and since I could fit two breasts in the pan, I divvied the 2 tablespoons in half as well, just so I knew I was using the butter equally. It helps. Otherwise I wind up using the whole thing and having to get more.
Let the butter heat up and melt. The recipe calls for medium high heat, but I needed to go a touch higher on the dial to get the fry I wanted. It depends on your stove, just adjust it so that the chicken is cooking but not burning. Don’t stir; flip. If you stir or jostle dredged or battered meat, it could loose it’s coating. The chicken goes in the pan:
Since these are thicker slices this is going to take a while. Pour yourself a drink!
A note on the wine: Castello is a lovely place and I was lucky to have a bottle of the Il Raggio del Sole muscat at home. My fiancé and I think it’s delish, though I would prefer their Gewürtztraminer Dolcino if i were looking for a sweet white for dinner, just my preference for over muscats which are floral and fruity. But that’s exactly what makes the muscat work in this recipe. I wouldn’t feel fair to the variety of palates or budgets out there if I only talked about Castello wine, so please pay a visit to this year’s muscat medalists at the SF Chronicle Wine Competition.
(My comments: If you are experimenting with this whole cooking thing, don’t feel bad picking up a cheap Barefoot wine – it won Best of Class. You won’t feel bad for “wasting” a good wine if you burn down the kitchen, and if you make it out of the inferno with the bottle, you can still be sure it’s drinkable. Don’t cook with wine you wouldn’t drink. Also, for my backpacking lovers, I can vouch for Black Box wines on the trail in the wilderness – their bags have an amazing lasting quality. If muscat is your grape and you are out in the backcountry, this one will fit your niche just fine. I know, I know, I should write a post about backpacking with wine and the options therein. Patience! But I digress.)
This is the chicken about halfway done. I’m including this because I’ve seen friends who are new to cooking be concerned about color. How do you know when it’s done without checking? Especially chicken, which is light in color when cooked, can be deceptive if you don’t “just know” or the timing is off because your stove or oven has a different temperature than the recipe writers. When is something actually “cooked until golden (brown)?” You are looking at a cooked layer of golden meat, but the inside is still raw.
So look for something like this, which puts the brown in golden brown. If you poke chicken now, the juices (blood) should run clear (not pink/red). The white stuff on top that is leaking out is just extruded proteins that were soluble in the juices that come out in a gel-like form, like while cooking fish. it’s coagulated cooked blood, basically. (Get over it.)
When the chicken is like above and golden brown, put it on a plate under some foil (like a tent) to keep it warm. If you run out of foil, like happens, and you happen to have a microwave, put the plate in there. It’s like a little warming box. You’re not adding any heat, like you would in a warm oven, but you’re not loosing any to heat up the metal in a cold oven. It’s not perfect, but I’ve been impressed by how well it does, especially when my counter space is at a premium. Now it’s sauce time!
Scrape any big chunks of crud from the pan, but keep the juice for flavor. Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter and the shallots. I give them a turn around in the butter first to release their scent and flavor.
Then I added the grapes (rather than both at the same time). All mixed up, it looks like this:
Sauté that! The recipe calls for two minutes, and that’s pretty spot on for fresh grapes. I realize that it may not look done, firm super-fresh grapes won’t get soft right away, but they do soften up from heat after this is all done. When hot food (not just meat) “rests” off direct heat it’s still cooking somewhat, there’s still heat in the food and chemical changes going on from that heat. So, trust in the two minutes and the Bon Apétit folks.
Then add the wine.
The recipe says to bring this to a boil, but there was no bringing involved. It boiled almost instantaneously. I put down the measuring cup, grabbed the cream, and took this shot. No waiting to boil! Have that cream ready!
After adding the cream, the boil will subside in its furor. It will simmer on it’s own, really. I never had to adjust the stovetop temperature after the initial compensation for more heat to start the chicken. Add the tarragon:
This gloriously pretty mess gets spooned over the chicken, like such. I had some rice going in the rice cooker, and it came out right on time. Mmm, delicious!
Thank you Castello for this delicious recipe. Enjoy! Happy feasting!