How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Chicken Courvoisier

Whenever I think of brandy, I think of one of the executives in my defense-contractor days. Yes, I had defense-contractor days, with a food supplier, and we were not operating on nearly the kinds of fat margins that the weapons people make. But there were occasionally business dinners to be had, and this particular VP only ordered Courvoisier with his meals. So it has become the only brandy I usually think of, and I picture a nice meal with Wiggy (as this exec was known) and my other friends back at the food company.

After a hectic early fall, our schedules have become a bit more relaxed this week, so we took the time to do what the Nueva Receta blog project is all about. We pulled a couple of cook books off the shelves and started thumbing through them for something untried (by us). Knowing we had some chicken in the freezer, Pam's eye fell on a tiny booklet called Cooking Seafood and Poultry with Wine, by Bruce Carlson. It is published by Hearts and Tummies Cookbook Co., and we actually acquired it a couple of years ago at the lovely gift shop at Sakonnet Vineyard.

The recipe calls for a whole chicken quartered, which implies skin, bone and a generally different feel. But we had chicken breasts and decided to work with them. Once thawed, I dredged them in flour and placed them heated olive oil in our indispensible cast-iron skillet. I browned the chicken lightly and then set it aside on a warm plate. I then put an onion (cut into chunks) some "baby" carrots (we know there is no such thing, but you know what I mean), and minced shallots in the same pan, again browning lightly.

Before and after the flame. The initial flare was quite intense; by the time Pam could get close enough for a photo, it was the subtle glow seen above, like the Marfa Lights.
I then returned the chicken to the pan, doused it with brandy, and lit it. BOOM! it went briefly before glowing for about a half-minute. I'm not sure what the effect of this was, since it did not caramelize the onions or anything like that, but it was a nice show. I then covered and simmered for 20 minutes. I then added Grüner Veltliner from -- where else? -- Westport Rivers in the stead of the Riesling in the recipe, along with mushroom caps, covered and simmered another 20 minutes.

I will try this again sometime with whole chicken pieces just to see how the sauce might differ. This sauce was very light but pleasing, and I was reminded more than anything of the vegetables we would have with Sunday-afternoon pot roast when I was a kid.  We served this with my signature oven-roasted potato cubes, and of course the rest of that Grüner Veltliner.

The next morning, the "way-back" feature on Facebook reminded me that it was exactly a year ago that we had made our first foray into the flaming-brandy world, with an amazing coffee drink, a café brûlot!
We had a bit better luck with the timing of our photography last year.

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