I'm fortunate to have the bes
t girl friends. We've know each other since we where quite young and have seen each other through the joys and sorrows of life. It started with spend-the-night parties eating pizza late at night as we giggled over boys and catty gossip. Now, it's periodic lunches at some place that serves nice chicken salad while we hash over our families, fashion and fret over the latest evidence time is not on our side anymore. We mark each birthday with lunch and linger in our endless discussions of the progression of our lives. What I've enjoyed the most with these girls is laughter. We can still laugh until we cry over something silly, mitigating the more unpleasant realities life has dealt.
Occasionally, I get my act together and get the good china and silver out and fix a special lunch for these BFFs because I know they will appreciate the effort. This recipe was suggested by another friend and it reminded me of something my mother made for a ladies' luncheon. It's an elegant chicken mousse accessorized with Alex Hitz's rich Mushroom Sauce. I've made a few minor alterations from his recipe.
Mousse de Volaille, serves 6
1 lbs. boneless, skin less chicken breasts cut into 2 inch cubes
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Butter for ramekins. Parchment or waxed paper rounds cut to fit ramekins by tracing a circle on the paper around a ramekin. Heat a kettle of water.
Brush the 6 oz ramekins with butter and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put the first 5 ingredients in a food processor. Turn on and slowly add the cream through the open tube space (remove the feed tube). Process until mixture is blended. Scrape the sides with a spatula and continue to process until smooth; about a minute. Distribute the mixture in the ramekins evenly and smooth with a spoon or spatula. Press a paper round on top of the mixture to seal the mousse.
Place the filled ramekins in a roasting pan large enough to hold them and pour the hot water in the pan until half way up the side of them. Careful place the pan in the oven and bake 20 mins or until firm and internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove from oven and the water bath. They will hold at this point while you get ready to serve. Drain any accumulated liquid from the ramekin and remove the paper cover. Unmold onto serving plate and serve with Mushroom Sauce.
5 tbls unsalted butter 2 cups chicken stock
3 tables minced shallot 2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 plus fresh mushrooms, divided, 3/4 tsp plus 1/4 tsp salt
half minced, half quartered 1/2 cup chicken essence (1 1/4 tsp chicken paste)
1 tbls dried tarragon 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 1/2 tsp medium dry sherry, divided 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 3 tbls butter and when the foaming has subsided, add the shallots and saute' them until translucent, about 2-3 mins.
Add the minced mushrooms, tarragon, and 1/2 cup sherry to the shallots, and cook this mixture slowly until all liquid has evaporated, about 30 min. Add the chicken stock and increase the heat to high, bring to a boil. Let it boil for 10 mins. and then reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the heavy cream, 1/4 tsp of the salt, the chicken essense, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp of sherry and the white pepper.
Turn off the heat. In a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 2 tsp of butter and when the foaming subsides, add the 3/4 lb quartered mushrooms and sauce' them until they are brown. Add 1/8 tsp salt to the mushrooms and stir well, and then add them to the sauce.
Let the sauce cool, cover it, and let it refrigerate overnight. Reheat it before serving over the individual unmolded mousses.