Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. ~ CK Chesterton

Howdy Yall! It's time to lick your lips and drool as we discuss yummy vittles and Texas testaments to taste!

I hope you enjoy your time with us. Please be sure to drop by and leave a message or a hello. We want to know how to better serve you!

~Blue Zebra

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dinner With Julia - Happy Birthday, Julia!

Chicken Provencal with Roasted Rosemary New Potatoes and Zucchini & Red Pepper Julienne

We had dinner with Julia tonight. I know this for certain. I’m pretty sure I channeled Julia and felt her with me as I made dinner! Tonight I made Chicken Provencal from Julia Child’s, “The Way To Cook,” in honor of her birthday.

My friend Lisa, at Champaign Taste, is throwing Julia’s second annual birthday party tomorrow and asked everyone to prepare a dish from one of her recipes. When I heard about the party, I immediately and unashamedly begged to be included.

The meal turned out gloriously. Oh my. Seldom do I make meals that leave me smacking for more. I’m usually so critical of my own cooking. Usually by the time I’m through in the kitchen and plates are served, the last thing I want to do is sit down and “dig in”. But this meal enthralled me from the prep on! From the first cut of the onion, I felt Julia’s presence in my humble kitchen.

I made a beautifully simple dinner based on “my need for speed” being a weeknight and all. It’s actually a combination of two of her recipes: Chicken Breasts Meuniere and Chicken Provencal. From start to finish it took 45 minutes to get food on the table and most of that time was cooking time, not active prep time. Even allowing for dropping everything I touched, the meal cooked quickly. My clumsiness was legend! And as B poured my glass of wine, I felt Julia smiling down and laughing with me!

I loved Julia Child. I adored her from the first moment I watched her on PBS as a young girl, and saw her masterful way of laughing at herself and finding joy in everything. I loved her command of food. I loved her knowledge and I loved that she was a clutz. I can’t remember her without remembering the old Saturday night spoof with Dan Ackroyd as Julia, clumsily chopping his/her hand off…macabre I know, but Julia adored that skit! I love that she loved it! She, as much as my family, influenced my desire to decode the mystique of cooking and entertaining. I wanted to be her when I grew up.

Lisa, thanks for allowing me to have the fun of celebrating Julia’s talent and life. We laughed and had a spectacular time this evening. And every bite was appreciated. In her honor, I prepared Chicken Provencal, served with oven-roasted rosemary new potatoes and a julienne of zucchini and red pepper. Served along side homemade French bread and a gorgeous cabernet (Yes, I know there’s a white wine in the picture…I had that too! *blush*, but the Provencal was cooked with the chardonnay), the meal hit every comfort note you could want.

So, without further adieu, I give you Julia Child’s Chicken Provencal. And actually, it’s two recipes as mentioned above; Chicken Breast Meuniere and Chicken Provencal.

Chicken Breast Meuniere
By Julia Child – The Way To Cook
Yield 4 Servings

4 Boneless and skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp of thyme leaves, dried
1 cup Flour in a plate
2-3 Tbsp Clarified Butter

Optional Lemon-Butter Sauce (I omitted this sauce and substituted a Provencal Sauce)
2 Tbsp Butter
½ Lemon
2 Tbsp Minced Fresh Parsley

Special Equipment Suggestions:
A heavy 10-inch frying pan (no-stick recommended), hot plates or platter

Season the breasts lightly with salt, pepper and thyme. The moment before sautéing, dredge them in flour, and shake off the excess.

Set the frying pan over high heat, add the clarified butter, and, when very hot but not burning, lay in the chicken breasts.

Sauté one minute on one side and turn, and sauté on the opposite side. The meat is done when springy to the touch. Remove it to hot plates.

Optional Lemon Butter Sauce Method:
Swish the fresh butter in the pan, and heat for a moment until it turns a light brown. Squeeze drops of lemon juice over the chicken and pour on the hot butter.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve at once.

To Accompany Chicken Breasts Meuniere:
Try baking tomatoes and fresh buttered spinach or broccoli. Sautéed potatoes would also be welcomed as would a light red wine like a pino noir or Beaujolais.

Sautéed Chicken Provencal – With Tomatoes, Garlic and Herbs
By Julia Child – The Way To Cook

Provencal always means “with tomatoes, garlic and olive oil and often olives and other typical ingredients from that sunny clime.

Sauté the chicken in olive oil, as in the master recipe for Sautéed Chicken. Remove it to the side and spoon the fat but not the juices out of the pan. Stir in 2 cups of ripe red tomato pulp, a sprinkling of mixed Provencal herbs and a couple of pureed garlic cloves. Boil several minutes to thicken the sauce, correct seasoning, stir in several tablespoons of dry white French vermouth and return the chicken to the pan. Baste it with the sauce, cover and simmer several minutes to warm through, basting 2 or 3 times.

Sautéed Chicken Provencal – With Tomatoes, Garlic and Herbs
By Blue Zebra
Adapted from instructions by Julia Child – The Way To Cook
Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
3 Roma tomatoes, skinned and seeded
½ Carton Grape Tomatoes, halved
4 Cloves of garlic (large), sliced
1 Onion, sliced in strips
3 Tbsp Capers
16 Nicoise or Kalamata Olives, pitted
1 Lemon, zested
1 tsp Fines Herbes
1/8 tsp Thyme Leaves
1/8 tsp Rosemary Leaves
½ tsp sugar
1 cup of White Wine or dry French vermouth
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Sauté chicken breasts as described in Chicken Breasts Meuniere recipe above and remove from pan.

Add olive oil to remaining butter/juices in the sauté pan and add garlic and onion slices. Sauté until translucent.

Add capers, olives and tomatoes and stir to combine. Cook until you see the tomatoes starting to stick in the bottom of the pan. This means that the liquid of the tomatoes has reduced and the sauce can take the next addition of liquid, the wine.

Add the wine and all seasonings except salt and pepper. Add the lemon zest but do not add lemon juice and sugar. Stir to combine and let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the breasts back to the pan, placing them underneath the sauce. Cover and allow to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Do this slowly. The sauce will tighten up and become “melded” with all the flavors and those of the chicken. If it looks too thick when adding the chicken back in, add more white wine to make it thinner. The liquid will reduce while cooking the chicken and the wine alcohol will cook off.

When breasts are tender and sauce is thickened, remove from heat and serve.

Blue Zebra NOTES:
This is absolutely one of my new favorite recipes! The flavor of the fines herbes is fantastic! You can taste the tarragon and the camphor taste added by the rosemary just adds delicious taste notes when combined with the acidity of the tomatoes and the earthiness of the olives and sharp tang of capers. The sugar helps to balance the acidity. This sauce works great for both boneless skinless breasts and also more rustic presentations with bone in chicken pieces.


Lisa said...

That looks fantastic! What a wonderful evening it sounds like you had. Thank you so much for taking part and making the event great. Roundup will be up soon!

lucette said...

Yours is much more ambitious than mine! It looks great.

Magpie said...

That looks divine. And 45 minutes? Good - I could do that!

Blue Zebra said...

Hi all and thanks for vising!!! Hope you will come back again and again!

lisa - I adore your blog and thanks so much for lettin me join in on the tribute. I had a blast and B called me Julia all night!

lucette - NOT! Your salad and photo looked gorgeous and I have to say that Nicoise salad is my very favorite! LOL, when the summer maters first came out,I kid you not, I had Nicoise salad for one meal every day for a week. *blush*

magpie! I hope to show on this blog that really delicious food from slow ingredients can be fast and cheap, too! This meal cost under $2.00/plate. Go figure! And, it probably was closer to about 35 minutes but because of photos...well you get the piccy! ;)

katiez said...

I love anything 'Provencal' Everything looks delicious. I'd forgotten the Akroyd sketch... She was such a good sport about all that!
Now I want to go watch the 'Way to Cook' videos... yeah, videos, VHS, not DVD's....

Blue Zebra said...

katiez I know! There is something so refreshing about Provencal dishes! They are sophisticated even while being peasant types of dishes! And Julia was just the queen of this style of cooking wasn't she?! I automatically think of her when I think of country French quisine!

veron said...

This looks simply divine. I took Julia Child's My life in France on a trip I made last week and re-read it a second time. She is an amzing woman!

Blue Zebra said...

Hi veron and glad to welcome you to the land of blue zebras! I heart Julia. And am planning on reading "My Life In France". Glad to have your endorsement of it! I'm reading Bastage With Julia right now and will let you know about it! She really was an amazing person!

Sandi @ the WhistleStop Cafe said...

that looks like a wonderful meal... I hope you spent the day in the kitchen talking like Julia Child. I did=D
Bon Appetite Y'all!

Blue Zebra said...

Hi Sandi! I have to admit to not spending the whole day there! Cuz I only spent about 20 minutes total in the kitchen and the other 25 minutes was cooking time and down time so to speak! But while I was in there, I talked to and "like" Julia! I loved the inconguity of her voice. She was so very tall and yet her voice warbled and was actually very high for her heighth!

Gosh what a great ol' dame, right?!

lori lynn at Taste With The Eyes said...

Hi BZ - I read your post on Julia's birthday but did not have time to comment so I am back today. That was terrific! And I got a good chuckle over your comment about the red and white wines...

Blue Zebra said...

Hahahaha Lori Lynn great to see you here and hope you will come back and add your voice time and again!!

I might even share the wine with you!!