lundi 30 avril 2007

Raspberry Chicken

Paris is more about style than function. The French concentrate their efforts on presentation and they excel at this. Walking around Paris, you see beautiful buildings, colourful public space gardens that change with every season, trees that are planted in straight lines to create vistas and glimpses of hidden courtyards. Even the simplest shops present their wares in the most creative and beautiful window displays that are changed frequently. Don’t look too closely at the state of the sidewalks or the never ending infrastructure projects or the illusion will be gone!

The inside of classic Paris apartments reflects this presentation attitude as well – ornate mouldings on the walls and ceilings, French windows and doors, hardwood floors, ornate fireplaces – until you get to the functional rooms like the kitchen and bathroom. These rooms seem to be an afterthought - tiny spaces tucked into corners barely big enough to allow you to walk into the room. In stark contrast to the Canadian and American attitude of taking visitors on a tour of your home, the French understand that their hosts have concentrated their efforts on the salon (living room) and will not venture into other rooms. It is said that French dinner guests will not even use the toilet in your home (unless they are very close friends) in respect of this.

When I was apartment hunting in Paris, a functional kitchen was one of my main requirements but the real estate agent was surprised when I kept turning down apartments that did not have a suitable kitchen. To me this seems to be another contradiction of Paris – a city world renowned for its marchés but many of its apartments are not equipped for cooking. For those who do not have the luxury of a fully equipped kitchen, here is a recipe for a simple and elegant dish to prepare for your guests that can be made using only burners. The meal can be completed with a green salad and rice.

This week’s recipe is adapted from ‘The Silver Palate Cookbook’ by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, one of the essential cookbooks in my collection.

Raspberry Chicken
Serves 2 - 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
30 mL (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter
60 mL (¼ cup) yellow onions, finely chopped
60 mL (4 Tbsp) raspberry vinegar
60 mL (¼ cup) chicken stock
60 mL (¼ cup) heavy cream (35%) or crème fraîche
15 mL (1 Tbsp) crushed tomatoes
16 fresh raspberries

Cut chicken breasts in half. Flatten each piece by pressing gently with the palm of your hand.

Melt butter in a large skillet. Raise the heat and add the chicken breasts; cook for about 3 minutes per side or until lightly coloured. Remove from the skillet and reserve.
Add the onion to the the pan; cook, covered over low heat until tender, about 15 minutes.
Add vinegar, raise the heat and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until vinegar is reduced to a syrupy spoonful. Whisk in chicken stock, cream or crème fraîche and crushed tomatoes and simmer for 1 minute.
Return the chicken to the pan and simmer gently in the sauce, basting often, until they are just done and the sauce has been reduced and thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook..
Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and arrange on a heated serving platter. Add the raspberries to the sauce and cook over low heat for 1 minute. Swirl the berries in the sauce by shaking the pan. Pour over the chicken and serve immediately.

2 commentaires:

zoro a dit…

Is raspberry vinegar essential and if so is it easy to find?

Jan McIntyre a dit…

Raspberry vinegar gives the dish its flavour. My favourite one is Maille Vinaigre de vin au jus de Framboise. It is readily available in grocery stores or you can make your own by placing 250 mL (1 cup) of washed raspberries in a 500 mL (2 cup) serilized Mason jar then filling with white vinegar. Let stand in a dark place for 2 to 3 weeks; strain into a sterilized jar and seal. Makes about 250 mL (1 cup) of vinegar.