The Wilkinsons are not only old and dear friends, but they’re also staunch supporters of our MY KITCHEN Program, and my best personal chef clients.
For marketing purposes I won’t say that they’re also my favorite clients (but…they’re also my favorite clients.)
Don’t tell anyone.
I have had the honor of cooking in their beautiful kitchen many times, and when Ron called and asked if I could prepare a nice, upper-end, chicken-breast dinner for them and a few of their friends, I immediately thought of an old favorite: Chicken Georgia.
A simple recipe, Chicken Georgia is easy to prepare, lends itself to a fancy presentation, and with its thick, creamy mushroom sauce, falls solidly in the umami comfort food category.
As his lovely wife, Karen, requires a gluten-free menu, I’d incorporate the old-English method of using egg yolks, instead of flour, to thicken my sauce.
However, this was Ron, and Ron appreciates a little “over the top” when enjoying a fine meal. So, I took my old recipe to the drawing board…
Bacon, of course, would be absolutely essential and, along with a flavorful compound butter stuffed inside, would virtually guarantee that the chicken breasts remained juicy inside and out. Replace the onions with diced shallots – check. A little of my favorite pecorino romano to add a bit more depth to the sauce, and I give you…
Chicken a la Wilkinson!
The test dish received rave reviews from the home team, and was a smashing success at the party, served along with some Southern-style green beans, cilantro-lime rice, a nice green salad, and warm Dutch rolls. It was…lovely.
- 1 cup fine sea salt
- 1 cup fine sugar
- 3 quarts very hot water
- 4 cups of ice
- 4 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless, thawed
- 4 tsp. Mushroom Garlic Compound Butter (recipe below)
- 1 raw egg, beaten
- 4-8 strips apple-wood smoked bacon, thin
- 4-8 toothpicks
- 2 oz. grated mozzarella cheese
- 4 tsp. butter
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 Tbs. mushroom powder*
- 2 pinch ea. black pepper
- 2 tbsp. minced shallots
- 1 cup homemade chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temp
- 4 egg yolks, beaten
- 2 oz. grated pecorino-romano cheese
Brine the Chicken:
Combine the salt, sugar, and hot water and stir until completely dissolved. Add ice to chill.
Once chilled, add the chicken breasts and brine for 4-6 hours.
Remove breasts from brine, rinse thoroughly, pat dry, and set aside.
Prep the Chicken:
Egg Eash: Whip your raw egg yolks in a flat-bottom bowl, and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Using a small knife, slice a deep pocket in the side of each breast (be careful not to pierce the other side!) and insert a teaspoon of chilled compound butter, pushing it as far back into the pocket as possible.
Dip the outside of the breast, along the pocket seam, in egg wash to seal.
Refridgerate breast for 20-30 minutes to set the seal.
Wrap each breast with 1-2 strips of back (depending on size) slightly overlapping, and secure the end with a toothpick.
(If you have trouble with the breast being slippery, use 2 toothpicks and secure the beginning end, first.)
Melt butter over medium heat and add the olive oil, mixing to combine.
When hot, add the bacon wrapped chicken and sear 1-2 minutes on each side, just long enough to start the bacon browning.
Remove chicken to a baking dish, top with mozzarella, and place in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes*** while making your sauce.
Mushroom Cream Sauce:
Put the pan back on the burner and lower the heat to medium. Deglaze your pan with 1/2 cup of chicken stock.
Add mushrooms and shallots and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 15-20 minutes covered, stirring often, until your mushrooms have reduced by at least half (the more they reduce, the more flavor they’ll have).
Add chicken stock and mushroom powder, and bring to a low simmer. Add your raw egg to the heavy cream, whisk to combine completely. While whisking the sauce vigorously, slowing pour in the cream/egg mixture until incorporated.
Whisk in the grated pecorino-romano cheese, reduce heat to med-low, and let the sauce reduce slightly, stirring often to keep it from separating.** (A sauce “separates” when the milk content curdles, creating an unappetizing texture.)
When the chicken reaches an internal temp of 160F, remove the roasting pan from the oven, pull out all of the toothpicks, top the chicken evenly with mushroom sauce, and pop it all back in the oven for 5 more minutes.
Allow the dish to rest (the sauce will thicken slightly) about 5 minutes, then serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or polenta.
Mushroom Garlic Compound Butter
- 1 stick of sweet cream butter, very soft
- 1 Tbs. coarse black pepper
- 1 Tbs. mushroom powder
- 1 tsp. roasted garlic, or more to taste (you can sub this with garlic powder, but it won’t be as good.) 😉
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
Using the back of a metal spoon, combine all until mixed evenly (If using the compound in another recipe, which do not include brining, add 1 tsp. of fine sea salt before mixing.) Spoon the mixture onto a sheet of plastic-wrap and roll into a cylinder and twisting the ends to seal. Chill until hard.
Compound butter is great in soups and sauces, to top burger or steaks, and it’s a lovely way to fry or scramble eggs!
HOME CHEF NOTES:
*If you can’t find mushroom powder, you can make your own with dried mushrooms and a spice blender.
**If you get distracted and your sauce DOES separate (it’ll look like you’ve mixed cottage cheese into it) don’t panic, it happens! 😉 Using a slotted spoons, remove the mushrooms from the sauce. Using a stick-blender, or traditional blender, blend the sauce briefly until it’s smooth again. Wipe the pan clean. Rinse the mushrooms very briefly in hot water to remove the milk curds, and return to the pan with the mushrooms.
***If you’re using those huge “factory chicken” breasts, you may want to pound them slightly flatter (before brining), and add 10-15 minutes to the roasting time. Be safe – use a thermometer and cook to temp.