Monday, June 13, 2011

Currently Reading: French Women Don't Get Fat

 I know you are thinking, what does this picture have to do with the book. You are also probably thinking didn't you already tell me about this book... and yes, you would be right, I did, but there are a few sentences  I loved and wanted to share. Keep in mind this is a book about the importance of moderation and joy of eating, so while she deliciously describes Champagne, there is a lesson in the full paragraph (I just cut that part out. Iit's on page 173 if you want to read the whole thing.)

How perfect is her description of the glamorous qualities of Champagne in these few lines:

...You see, I still get a kick from Champagne - a big one. To me Champagne is magic. It's also a supremely feminine wine. I love everything about it: the seductive honey color, the tiny bubbles, (they should dance for you), the scents and tastes (citrus, pear, apple, dried fruit, brioche), the lovely, long, yeasty aftertaste. I love the mood Champagne creates, the feeling no other wine can come close to: celebrations, life-affirming joy...

If that paragraph is not enough to make you want to go buy a bottle of Champagne and enjoy a long leisurely dinner with friends, this recipe, also from the book, will probably do just that:

Chicken Au Champagne

Start with the best and most flavorful chicken you can find. Organic, free-range chicken is more widely available than ever. As for Champagne I recommend Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut. (Quell Surprise!) Okay, here's my disclaimer: I work for the company, but I am also addicted to its rich, full-bodied style and quality. Lots of good sparkling wines are made around the world, but they don't taste the same as French Champagne. And even Champagne vary a good deal, depending on the grapes used, winemaking, and aging. Champagne has two reliable properties for cooking (or drinking). The first is dryness. Champagne is an austere wine, high is acidity. With chicken, I am not looking for sweetness, so Brut is the style of Champagne that works best. Second, I consider the flavors the wine imparts to the chicken. Veuve Clicuot is notable for its rich, full body and full flavor, having been made mostly from red grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) with about a third Chardonnay. 

4 chicken breast (with skin and bone)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Chervil, tarragon, or thyme (optional)
1 shallot quartered
1 cup Champagne (Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut recommended)

1. Place the chicken breasts in a roasting pan, skin side down, and season them.  Pour 1/2 cup of the Champagne over breasts. Make a slit in each Breast and insert a piece of shallot. 
2. Place the Pan under the broiler for three minutes. Turn and broil the other side for five minutes, until the skin is nicely brown. 
3. Remove the chicken from the broiler, baste with the pan juices, and add the remaining 1/2 cup of Champagne. Adjust the oven temperature to 475 degrees and bake the chicken for 30 minutes, basting once or twice more. 
4. Serve over brown rice. Sauteed mushrooms add a special touch and go beautifully with Champagne. (In a warm frying pan with a touch of olive oil, add clean, roughly chopped mushrooms, and cook for  a few minutes. Add a few drops of lemon juice, freshly chopped sage, seasoning to taste, and one tablespoon butter.) Pour the cooking juices from the chicken over the meat and rice. Serve the remainder of the bottle of champagne (about six glasses) with the meal.

Hope you enjoyed!!

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