The food: Chicken Chasseur
Fall has arrived (begone, overly hot, overly long summer!), and while I dislike the cold weather as much as the next person – no, wait. I like cold weather. Or rather, I like cool sunny days of the autumnal variety. I like turning off the a/c and NOT turning on the furnace. I like putting the hot water bottle into play at bedtime. I like jumping back into the local literary scene at Toronto’s Word on the Street festival at the end of September.
And I like bringing back to the regular home cooking rotation fall/winter comfort food dishes like Chicken Chasseur (poulet chasseur, more properly, but I work from the Joy of Cooking recipe I’ve used for years, the one that is amusingly and Americanishly titled “Hunter’s Chicken, Chicken Cacciatore or Chasseur”: take your pick.)
The recipe suggests serving the chicken, which is cooked in a wine-scented, mushroomy, tomato-rich sauce – over boiled spaghetti (wtf?). But in a nod to my multicultural origins (and cooking influences) I serve it over Japanese white rice, and top it with challah croutons for gluten-eaters and rice bread croutons for the gluten-free among us.
Gluten-Free Chicken Chasseur Hungry Novelist Style
(adapted from The Joy of Cooking)
Rinse and dry with paper towels:
4 half chicken breasts, bone-in
3-4 T. cornstarch
Saute till golden brown in a large saucepan in:
3-4 T. olive oil
2-3 shallots, peeled and minced
Mix and add to the pan:
1 small can tomato paste (about 1/2 cup)
1 c. dry white wine
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp. thyme, 1/2 tsp. marjoram
2 Tbsp. brandy or cognac
Simmer mixture, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour until chicken is tender and sauce has thickened nicely. Keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t burn. If too thick, thin with a little more chicken stock or wine.
Meanwhile, saute 2 c. sliced mushrooms in olive oil until browned and tender.
Make steamed rice.
Make croutons by frying 1 slice per serving of bread (of your choice) in 1 Tbsp. olive oil until browned and fragrant. Fry gluten-free bread slices in a separate pan from gluten-full bread, obvi. Cut fried bread into crouton-sized pieces.
When chicken is tender, remove breasts from sauce, cut meat from bone and into bite-size pieces/shreds, discard bones, and return chicken pieces to sauce. Stir in sauteed mushrooms and keep mixture warm.
To serve, place a mound of cooked steamed rice on a plate, top with 4-6 croutons, and pour a ladleful of chicken and mushrooms in sauce over top of both.