Surprisingly, this chicken really does cook in the amount of time indicated in the recipe.  Ten minutes in the oven may seem brief, but when removed from the oven, the chicken is maintained in a warm oven while the sauce if finished.  It is important to remember that a supreme of chicken (i.e. one-half chicken breast, boned and skinned) can be ruined by overcooking, so be very careful about timing.  

Breast of Chicken with Herbed Mushrooms

½ cup butter
1 ½ tablespoons chopped shallots
3 chicken breasts, boned, skinned & halved
3/4 cup medium-dry Madeira wine
¾ cup brown sauce *
Dash Lemon Juice
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons sweet butter


Preheat oven to 400° F.

Melt one-half cup butter in a flame-proof casserole.  Add shallots and cook gently for 5 minutes.  Place chicken breasts on top.  Add the Madeira, cover the casserole, and cook in a 400° F. oven to 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove the breasts and place them on a serving dish.  Keep warm.

Reduce the sauce in the casserole by two-thirds.  *Add brown sauce and cook five minutes.  Correct the seasoning with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Strain.  Meantime, sauté the mushrooms in two tablespoons of the sweet butter, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Add to the strained sauce.  Add remaining sweet butter and heat well, but do not boil.  Pour over breasts of chicken to serve.

Yield:  Serves 6.

Brown Sauce (Sauce Espagnole) takes several days to make but, once done, will keep in the refrigerator for a few days and may be frozen. Also, for Brown Sauce, first you need to make Beef Stock, so add a day for that.  These are not labor intensive as much as time consuming as they bubble on your cooktop or in your oven for quite a few hours. Try freezing either beef stock or brown sauce in small amounts, even, e.g. in an ice-cube tray, and then you’ll have readily available amounts to defrost and add to many different dishes whose character depends upon a bit of brown sauce.

This is a new favorite adapted from one of our oldest, favorite cookbooks, The Four Seasons Cookbook, published in 1971 and  now out of print.  The James Beard contribution on wines of the season which is offered for summer, fall, winter and autumn, is naturally outdated, but the recipes are classics.

You can find this and related recipes by tapping here on the Home Cookin’ index.

*If you have no time to make brown sauce, you can make this dish without it.  Just use a bit more chicken stock, skip the brown sauce.  Poppy has done this and the result is a wonderfully tasty, light chicken dish.

And, when I added just that, Poppy sent the following clarification:

Actually, the variation I concocted did not use the Madeira.  I browned the shallots, then quickly browned the chicken (these were breasts with the bone on, not boneless) and put it in the covered pot in the oven for a little over 10 minutes.  When the chicken was “near done” but not totally done (by visual inspection with a knife into one of the breasts), I took it from the oven, put it on a platter and used the pot to cook the mushrooms with some chicken stock and white wine.  Did not add more butter at the end–this is summer!

In conclusion: no Madeira, no brown sauce, but chicken stock (say 1/2 cup) and white wine (say 1/2 cup) in their place. 

The original recipe is wonderful but very rich, the alternate is lighter, but still a bit rich because of the butter.

You can find this and related recipes by tapping here on the Home Cookin’ index.


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