This dish needs some tweaking but was a good enough to post first try for a dinner that I know will become a Go To meal. Chicken and mushrooms with creamy cheese – what’s not to love? I almost followed the inspirational recipe: Mushroom Asiago Chicken, except where I didn’t.
First: Chicken breasts. The goal is to pound the chicken breasts until they are a fairly even thickness so they will cook easier. Who knows why we don’t have a meat tenderizer but a hammer works just fine too. I put the chicken breasts in a gallon zip-close FREEZER bag (freezer bags are thicker than regular plastic bags) to “contain” any mess vs. just waxed paper. If using a hammer, pound the chicken with the side of the hammer, not the head… which will tend to break the bag. Remember, you are trying to flatten out the thicker part of the breast so that the whole breast is a more even thickness, approximately 1/4″.
Season 1/2c all-purpose flour with salt, pepper and 1 Tbsp Herbs de Province. Heat 2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil in a heavy pan over medium heat. The reason for the combination of fats? You can cook olive oil at a higher temp so that will help keep the butter fat from burning but you also want some of the richness that comes from that butter. Coat whole chicken breasts in the flour and place in the hot butter/oil mixture and cook for 5 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove from the pan. **The inspirational recipe suggested cutting the breasts into serving size pieces before flouring and cooking. I might try that next time.
This dish seemed to cry for roasted asparagus – wash and trim the asparagus (I like slightly thicker asparagus for roasting – they just hold up better), place on a baking pan, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat oven to 400-degrees F. You are roasting these for 25-minutes so put them in as you are starting to simmer the chicken.
Chicken, mushrooms, creamy cheese sauce? Yup – long grain and wild rice will work with the flavors and we really like this Uncle Ben’s brand.
1 lb of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced – make sure to leave the mushrooms fairly chunky. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the already hot pan and stir in the mushrooms and 2 cloves of garlic, minced.
Sauté the mushrooms until they start to brown.
Stir in 3 sprigs of thyme leaves. The recipe calls for fresh thyme but I have thyme from our garden in the freezer – that’s what I used. Dried thyme would also work but would not be a flavorful.
Return the chicken to the pan, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. **this is a good time to put the asparagus in the oven and start the rice – both take 25-minutes to cook.
Now – my issue with this first cooking of the recipe. The inspirational recipe calls for plain asiago cheese but I could not find PLAIN asiago cheese in my grocery story (they have since started carrying it). Because I couldn’t find the asiago, I substituted with this Italian five cheese blend. You will see the issue shortly.
After simmering for 15-20 minutes, remote the chicken from the pan and keep warm. Add to the mushroom / wine mixture 1/2c heavy cream and combine.
Stir in 1/2c of shredded cheese. Now – the problem: asiago and parmesan would melt into the cream sauce, becoming incorporated vs. just getting “gummy”. Mozzarella and provolone, on the other hand, melts but doesn’t really combine into the sauce meaning the mushrooms just stuck together. The inspirational recipe suggested letting the sauce reduce by half but once the cheeses melted together, it was a bit of a mess. Next time I will definitely try just asiago, which should give a better texture to the sauce. The goal is to let the sauce reduce which will add to the richness of the flavor (although, if you are in a hurry, you can thicken the sauce with 1 Tbsp cornstarch & 2 Tbsp water).
But, all that said and done, the dish was absolutely delicious. There is basically nothing I don’t love about the combination of flavors and I know that I will get it perfected and it will be one of those dinners I make often.