It may seem a little over the top to pop open a bottle of bubbly just to use 1 and 1/4 cups (300ml) of it for poaching chicken breast, so I recommend inviting a friend or two over to help you drink the rest of the bottle while you assemble this luxurious dish. It requires virtually no prep and takes only 30 minutes from start to finish.
You can use prosecco instead of champagne; it’s a lot less expensive, equally delicious and what you don’t use will make a nice little *kir royale-style cocktail while your guests are waiting to eat (*just add a splash of your favorite fruit based liqueur). I’ve even made this with a crisp dry white wine – also delicious.
With regard to the mushrooms, choose any combination of chanterelles, morels, oyster mushrooms, maitake (aka ‘chicken of the woods’), brown beech, baby crimini/chestnut mushrooms or porcini if it’s hunting season, you know what you’re doing and you can find the perfect baby ones.
You’ll still have a tasty result using white button mushrooms but they’re a bit bland for this recipe, so be brave and go for those strange-looking fungi that come in small packages and are available from most good supermarkets. You’ll be rewarded with something more visually appealing and with better flavor. I don’t recommend using shitake as they tend to be rather chewy and add a flavor that’s reminiscent of musty old library books.
Crème fraiche is available in most good supermarkets. It’s a thick French-style, cultured cream that brings a lovely rich buttery, nutty flavor to sauces and soups – or simply dollop some on top of a bowl of fresh summer berries.
4 chicken breast fillets of equal size (preferably organic)
1 1/4 cups (300ml) of champagne or sparkling dry white wine
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of butter
8-9 oz (240g) of assorted fresh wild mushrooms, wiped clean and any large ones sliced
2 tablespoons of crème fraiche
1 tablespoon of fresh tarragon, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a wide sauté pan with a lid, place the whole chicken breasts in one layer and pour over the champagne or equivalent. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cover; simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked thoroughly.
Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in a separate pan and sauté the mushrooms until starting to turn golden, turning occasionally. Strain the cooked chicken breasts, reserving the liquid; cover the chicken and keep warm.
Add the reserved poaching liquid to the mushrooms and allow it to bubble for approx 4 minutes. Reduce the heat and stir in the crème fraiche (or sour cream) and tarragon – simmer gently for a few minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
Slice each chicken breast diagonally into thick slices and arrange on four warmed plates; pour over the sauce and serve immediately.
Serve with a wild rice pilaf and some leafy greens on the side with a lemony dressing.