A friend of mine today said that she wouldn’t know what ingredients to put together and I just seem to always know. Well, I don’t.
What I do know is that I have some favourite versatile flavours: tomato, potato, goat cheese, olive oil, mustard, vinegars, and fresh herbs. These are staples that I always have on hand.
Beyond those, I have a passion for seasonal foods. I am already anxiously awaiting the arrival of Jerusalem artichokes. The season is short (Dec/January here in Scotland) but I’ll make the most of it and they will largely replace potato as our main carb source for that time.
Everything else is a matter of inspiration. Often though, when I see a new ingredient that I haven’t tried before or a seasonal find – it can inspire my menu for a while.
Today, I noticed truffles at the grocery store. These tiny black gems of mushroom-y goodness cost a fortune and deserve to be given a place of honour. They are extremely flavourful and so a tiny bit will go a long way. Added to that I’ve been fairly mad recently for the goat’s milk butter that Waitrose carries. So tonight, my entire menu has been inspired by the fall weather and wanting to use the truffles to advantage.
To use truffles as a vegetable would be a complete waste – not to mention overpowering and hugely expensive (two hazelnut sized truffles cost me 8 pounds today or roughly $12 canadian). Instead, I got some ordinary white mushrooms that will form the bulk of the mushroom volume, and will use the truffles in the mash.
For the chicken:
- 1 chicken breast per person
- 1 cup of mushrooms per person – wiped clean of any dirt (never wet mushrooms!) and quartered.
- a generous splash of chablis (or another dry white wine).
- 1/4 cup of creme fraiche per person.
- a nob of butter
- a branch of thyme (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a pan over medium, melt the butter before adding the chicken breast. Don’t turn the chicken over until it is almost cooked through, then turn over until cooked through and slightly coloured.
- Set chicken aside.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and allow to cook until all of the rendered water has evaporated.
- Splash in the wine and seasoning and cream. Allow to evaporate slightly and return the chicken to simmer.
- Potatoes such as Maris Piper potatoes, peeled.
- A generous amount of butter.
- A fresh truffle
- Creamy goat’s cheese (optional)
- Cook the potatoes until they are firm (i.e. they can be crushed with a fork but offer a bit of resistance). Drain and set aside.
- In the pot, melt the butter (and cheese if using).
- Using a micro grater, grate the truffle and add to the butter. Allow to heat through before returning the potatoes and mashing thoroughly.
- Using a large metal ring, create a circle of the mash at the centre of a heated plate.
- Optionally, layer with fresh wilted spinach.
- Top with the chicken breast and mushrooms and drizzle with the cream sauce.
- Add a fresh grinding of pepper if desired.
- Serve immediately.