The other day I discussed chicken with my stepson. We both agreed that the reason that we don’t care for either chicken or turkey much is because they both taste so bland. Which is why I’m always searching for some way to make chicken that tastes great. Julia Child’s Suprêmes De Volaille À Blanc (Breast of Chicken with Cream) fits that bill. Even my stepson agrees.
A suprême is a breast of chicken removed raw from one side of the bird as a skinless, boneless piece. Of course Julia gives directions for taking a suprême from a whole chicken but I cheated and bought precut chicken breasts. I did have to adjust the cooking time but I think it was because of the thickness of the breasts.
It was good practice adjusting for doneness. The suprême is done when the flesh springs back with gentle resilience. If it’s soft and yields lightly, it needs to be cooked more. When it is cooked, it is no longer called a suprême. Instead it is called a blanc de poulet (white meat of chicken).
This recipe is something that can be done on a weekday as it doesn’t take that long to cook. A simple salad is a nice addition. A Suprême De Volaille À Blanc (Breast of Chicken with Cream) will fill you up.
A Note on Equipment – As I progress through these recipes, I am struggling a bit with equipment. Mostly I struggle because I have a glass countertop range, a material not meant for the traditional cast iron casseroles used in French cooking. For this recipe, I used my old Le Creuset stoneware baking dish which was a mistake. Though the heat tolerance is 500 degrees, it is not supposed to be used for direct stovetop. The second time I used this baking dish, it split into 5 pieces. Thankfully it was right as the dish was done. For the next poultry dish, I plan on using my broiler so we’ll see how that goes.
Equipment – a heavy, covered, fireproof casserole about 10 inches in diameter.
1) 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2) 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or juice of one squeezed lemon
3) 1/4 teaspoon salt
4) a big pinch of white pepper (I used black pepper because I didn’t have any white pepper.)
5) 4 tablespoons of butter
6) A couple of tablespoons of softened butter for the paper covering.
For the sauce
6) 1/4 cup white or brown stock or canned beef bouillon – One time I used beef stock and the second time I used chicken stock from a box and didn’t seem to make a difference.
7) 1/4 cup port, Madeira, or dry white vermouth
8) 1 cup heavy whipping cream
9) salt and pepper to taste
10) lemon juice as needed
11) 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley (optional) (I think this is an affectation from the time this book was written where everything was garnished with parsley which to me is kind of wasteful and doesn’t do anything so I labeled this “optional.”)
Preparation and Cooking #1 – Cook the Chicken
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Rub drops of lemon juice on the suprêmes.
3) Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4) Prepare a piece of wax or parchment paper of the same diameter as the pan you’re going to bake the suprêmes in. Take the softened butter and cover one side of it. Set aside.
5) Heat the 4 tablespoons of butter in the casserole or whatever dish you’re going to bake the suprêmes in on your range until foaming.
6) Quickly roll the suprêmes in the butter.
7) Cover the suprêmes with the buttered wax/parchment paper.
8) Cover the dish. I didn’t use a casserole as I said before so I just used aluminum foil to cover my dish.
9) Bake for 20 minutes. As I said above, push your finger into the chicken and if the meat is springy, it’s done.
10) Remove the suprêmes onto a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm while you make the sauce.
Preparation and Cooking #2 – Prepare the Sauce
1) Place the casserole dish on your range, turn on high or medium high.
2) Add the stock and wine.
3) Boil down until the liquid is syrupy.
4) Add the heavy whipping cream and boil down again until the sauce has thickened slightly.
5) Take it off the range. Add drops of lemon juice to taste.
6) Pour the sauce over the chicken. Serve immediately.