It was a cool spring evening and I had been thinking about my favorite Beef Bourguignonne for dinner, but it takes hours to prepare and Lorna no longer eats red meat anyway. But I had an hour drive home from work to think about a chicken version that could be prepared in a half an hour or so.
I knew I had dry red wine, mushrooms, bacon, and chicken breasts. The trick would be to evoke the flavors without attempting the impossible hours of simmering.
The solution was simple, although execution had its challenges. Nonetheless you can do this in about 30 minutes if you plan ahead:
- Chop the bacon and cook it in an enamelled heavy pot.
- While the bacon cooks, saute the chicken breasts in another pan.
- Slice an onion and saute it in the bacon fat.
- In a third pan, saute the mushrooms until they reabsorb their liquid.
- Open the dry red wine and add a half-cup to the mushrooms. Cook it down. Open a second bottle to drink with dinner.
- While the wine is cooking away, add some crushed garlic to the onions and bacon.
- As soon as the garlic starts to brown, add the mushrooms and a cup and a half of the wine. Add a generous grind of black pepper, a bay leaf, and a pinch of thyme. Let these flavors come together for five minutes at a smmer.
- While those flavors get happy, the chicken breasts should be done. Let them rest for a moment, then slice 1/4-inch thick.
- Add the sliced breasts and the juices to the pot. Let simmer for another five minutes. Time's almost up!
- Take the last cup of wine from the bottle and boil it down in a small pot with another bay leaf and some peppercorns or juniper berries. Ladle some of the wine from the chicken pot into the reduction pot to concentrate as much flavor as you can. The chicken should simmer and the wine should seethe.
- Spoon the chicken/mushrooms/onions mixture onto a platter, and pour over the reduced wine at the last minute.
- Serve hot with crusty bread and a second bottle of wine.