This recipe was not intended for a post, but after Madame Mere declared it the best meal she's had since she arrived, I just had to share it with you. I am still shocked that after all the meals I have prepared for her, this would be the one to elicit the most praise from her lips.
It all started with a cup of leftover Champagne. You know how I hate to throw stuff away. I had shared a bottle with my daughter in law on the occasion of my granddaughter's first birthday on Sunday and was salivating a risotto the next day; but the thought of another rich meal so soon after that was not terribly appealing. Every recipe I looked into for this iconic dish had cream in it and that was not too enticing, I wanted something simple. I was still putting things away from the party the night before and frankly my stomach could not take another heavy meal. So I decided to go on my own and try something new. The result was an unexpected hit, especially with MM. The best part, though, was that it was simple and quick and I had all the ingredients on hand. Talk about a home run...
There are two ways you can approach this recipe. You can wait until you have leftover Champagne OR, you can plan ahead. If you can't wait, and it is an elegant and quick main course for entertaining during the week, buy a bottle of good French Champagne like Veuve Cliquot, open it an hour or two before your guests arrive, save what you need for the marinade and put the bottle back in the fridge. You can recork the bottle with a Champagne cork or, better yet, let it sit unopened. Champagne stays bubbly for quite awhile. Serve it for cocktails or with this meal. That, my friends, would be over the top!
Whilst I highly recommend you use chicken thighs in this recipe, you can also use breasts and legs or a combination of all three. Adjust the recipe accordingly, but don't use skinless and boneless parts. The skin helps keep the moisture in and you can always remove it after it is served on your plate.
I did not have fresh shallots, but I always keep a jar of dried ones in the pantry for emergencies like this. The one thing that must be fresh, though, is the tarragon. Don't chop it up until right before you add it to the chicken. That is when it releases it's aroma.
If you are wondering why I would use onion and garlic powder instead of the fresh ingredients, it was for aesthetic purposes only. I wanted to end up with a browned chicken with sauce, no onions or garlic around it.
As I was planning a simple meal of broiled chicken, I prepared mashed potatoes and green beans. If you want to dress it up, you can always place the chicken on top of wild rice and serve a simple vegetable like green beans or sauteed spinach, If you must serve a salad, serve it afterwards, a la francaise. You don't want the vinegar in the dressing to compete with the sauce.
Poulet Roti Madame Mere
Serves 3 or 4
4 chicken thighs
1/2 cup of Champagne (leftover will do)
1 orange (the juice of) or 1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup fresh or dried shallots
3 TB butter
1. Get a bottle of Champagne and enjoy it with a friend. It doesn't have to be Veuve Cliquot, my one and only. This recipe was tested with 2 day old Costco Champagne! I highly recommend it over any other cheap Champagne in the market ($20), and you know I know my wines.
2. Don't be tempted to drink the whole thing. Control yourself and save at least 1/2 cup.
3. Marinade 4 chicken thighs in 1/2 cup of Champagne, the juice of one orange or1/4 cup of orange juice, 1 tsp. each garlic and onion powder (sprinkle over the chicken) 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh tarragon leaves, 1/2 cup chopped fresh or dried shallots and olive oil. Cover and let sit for at least 1 hour.
4. Take the chicken out of the marinade, carefully pat dry and slip some of the tarragon leaves from the marinade under the chicken skin.
5. Place chicken in a long Pirex, add sea salt and pepper on top and place 1/2 TB butter on top of each thigh. the other 1 TB of butter is halved and placed in the middle. Set the oven to broil.
6. Broil in the upper part (not the top) of the oven for 15 minutes.
7. Remove chicken from the oven and add back the marinade
8. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and continue cooking for 30 minutes or until done. Baste a couple of times.
This was accompanied with mashed potatoes and french cut green beans for a simple week night meal.
If you are en regime, you can omit the butter.