From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...When you travel with a group of strangers, you quickly learn about food preferences and the group's tolerance for new foods or flavors. Most people are adventurous, but I will never forget one traveler who quite unwittingly left me flabbergasted. I nearly choked when she complained, in tones far from sotto voce, that they served too much Chinese food in China. We were, of course, at a banquet in China, and whether your instinct is to laugh or cry, it was, pure and simple, one of life's "died and gone to heaven" moments. When we were in India, the people who planned our meals worked really hard to see that wouldn't happen. Western food was always included in the menu and the one dish that appeared every evening was Chicken Stroganoff. It apparently was viewed as a dish that would please both Eastern and Western sensibilities. Now, Beef Stroganoff was an enormously popular dish in the 60's and 70's, and most of us who cooked and entertained during that time had enough of it back then to last a lifetime. For that reason, I queued patiently for the exotic curries, daals and the gorgeous breads that are the hallmarks of the Indian table. There were, however, people who preferred the stroganoff and more Western fare. The Silver Fox liked the stroganoff, so once we were home I decided to make a version of it that we could both enjoy and that I could use in a pinch when had unexpected company. This is a 30 minute meal that is suitable for family, close friends and very informal gatherings. It won't make your reputation as a cook, neither will it break it. It is very easy to make and the only caution I have to share with you regards the sauce. If you make it with sour cream don't let it boil. It will curdle. I serve this dish with buttered parsley noodles or rice. Like all beige dishes, it cries for a side of bright green or red vegetables. This makes a nice meal. Those of you who try it will be pleased. Here's the recipe.
Chicken Stroganoff...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more if needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more if needed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup minced shallots
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup Marsala
1 (10.5-oz.) can condensed chicken broth, undiluted
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon, plus 6-8 sprigs for garnish
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
Optional: 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1) Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil and butter in large saucepan over medium heat until it shimmers. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until they're a light golden color, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until softened. Turn heat to medium-high, add the chicken pieces, and cook, stirring, until golden on the outside and almost cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a plate.
2) Return pan to burner. Turn heat to high and pour in Marsala, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add chicken stock, stir, boil until the liquid begins to look syrupy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat and pour any juices that have accumulated on the plate underneath the chicken back into the pan. Add mustard and minced tarragon and simmer for 3 minutes.
3) Turn off heat and whisk in creme fraiche or sour cream, stirring until smooth. Turn heat to low, taste and salt/pepper more if necessary. If you would like a thicker sauce add cornstarch mixture to pan and cook until thickened.
4) Add chicken mixture to pan and gently heat over low heat until the stroganoff is warmed through; do not let boil. Serve immediately over noodles or rice. Yield: 4 servings.
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