Great little recipe has the smallest ingredient list possible and everything else big: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or less — not including water, salt, black pepper, and some fats (like oil and butter), because we’re assuming you’ve covered them. Inspired by the column, the Big little recipes recipe book is available now.
Since the 1930s, canned cream of mushroom soup has been a shortcut for everything from green bean stew to beef stroganoff to shepherd’s pie. And while it’s hard to beat the convenience of a can — let’s face it, you can’t — this recipe comes awfully close.
The sauce only needs three ingredients. And yes, two of them are cream and mushrooms. And no, half and half or whole milk cannot be substituted. This is called cream of mushroom soup. This is why we came.
Play around with the type of mushroom if you like, but I’m convinced baby bellas (aka cremini mushrooms) are the sweet spot. Their flavor is deeper than that of white buttons, while their price is less than half that of oysters.
Which is handy here because we use a lot of mushrooms – a full pound. This may seem excessive coupled with a pound of chicken breast. And that’s the point. It makes for a savory, earthy cream sauce I’d swim in if I could, taking a notoriously sweet cut of meat and giving it a mike.
There is a lot of fearmongering when it comes to mushrooms. But it’s a weeknight, and we don’t have time for all that. So here’s what you’re not going to do:
You’re not going to thoroughly wipe down every clog with a damp towel. You are not going to carefully cut them into equal pieces. You are not going to cut or even remove the stems. You are not going to cook them in batches.
Instead, you’ll get into your pajamas, turn on your favorite podcast, and rest assured that with enough cream and mushrooms, even a cardboard box would taste good, which means crispy chicken will taste good, more bigger, better.
But you’re probably wondering about that third ingredient for the sauce, right? Looks like it’s in your fridge right now.
Recipe: Chicken of the Week with Creamy Mushrooms
- 1 pound baby bella mushrooms (aka cremini)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 (about 1 pound) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, preferably grain
- 1/3 cup finely chopped chives (or parsley or dill)
- Wash and dry the mushrooms (and don’t remove the stems, they are delicious). Slice half. Cut the other half.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter. When the butter is melted and starting to brown, add all the mushrooms and toss to coat well. (Sounds silly, but it will work.) Bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and starting to stick to the pan, with no remaining mushroom liquid.
- Meanwhile, horizontally cut the chicken breasts in half, then use a mallet or heavy skillet to pound the pieces to an even 1/4-inch thickness. Pat the chicken dry, then season with salt and pepper.
- Incorporate the mustard into the cream with a fork (directly in its measuring cup to preserve a dish).
- When mushrooms are golden and sticky, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then deglaze with 1/3 cup water.
- Let the water boil while you place another large skillet (preferably cast iron or enamel) over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. When the butter is melted and starting to brown, add the chicken. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the bottom is golden brown and crispy. You can rotate the pan halfway and press down on the chicken if it starts to curl up, but don’t stir it.
- As soon as the chicken begins to cook, add the mustard cream to the mushrooms. Simmer vigorously for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned and thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, then turn off the heat. Season to taste with mustard, salt and pepper.
- Flip the chicken and cook for about 1 minute longer, until just done (165°F on an instant-read or opaque thermometer in the thickest part). Turn off the fire.
- Scatter the creamy mushrooms over and around the chicken. Drizzle with chives and serve straight from the pan.