Chicken breasts with mushroom puree

Chicken breasts with mushroom puree

The idea behind this recipe in Bon Appetit is a good one. Making mushroom puree to go with chicken breasts (which are less flavorful than thighs) is a good one. But this is another case where the recipe just doesn’t work out at all like the photo: a problem we have with most recipes in Bon Appetit.

The complete recipe is linked here, but amounts to browning bone-in chicken breasts and then cooking them in the oven at 350˚ F for about  25 minutes.

Meanwhile, you make the mushroom puree from

  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms, halved                                      
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. crème fraiche
  • 2 tsp. truffle oil (don’t do this!)
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  1. Just as you’d think, you sauté the mushrooms in the butter until they give up their water and
  2. add the shallots and garlic, and saute them.
  3. Then you add the chicken broth, thyme and bay and cook it down at least by half.
  4. Next you add the cream and cook that down by half or more
  5. Skip the truffle oil: it always has a chemical taste since it isn’t truffles at all but 2,4-dthiapentane, and tests pretty fake.
  6. Remove the bay and thyme leaves and blend the whole thing until smooth..

Ideally the breasts are done now, and you put the puree on each plate and top with the sliced chicken breasts and a little sauteed Swiss chard. 

I can tell you that the puree is really delicious and would work with any sort of chicken as a sauce.

But there are problems

  1. The BonAppetit recipe doesn’t stop there. It has you sauté more shallots and garlic in butter and then boil down 2 more cups of chicken stock and strain it to make a sort of gravy. This is utterly superfluous, because it has the same flavors as the mushroom puree and runs off into the puree anyway.
  2. Serving the chicken breast sliced but with the bone still included makes it very hard to eat the chicken. You should debone it before slicing and serving.
  3. Cooking store-bought chicken breasts is not that simple since most of them are huge and hard to cook through without drying out.
  4. The puree in the BA picture is very thick and creamy. Despite our boiling it down a lot more than they say, we never got it to be that thick. Perhaps they used some arrowroot as well?
  5. Our puree had black flecks in it because most supermarket mushrooms have black gills. They call for “button mushrooms,” which may be whiter, but weren’t in our stores.

Our conclusion is that a simpler version of this recipe has real promise, but we’d not go through all those steps again.

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