Today was one of those spectacular winter days.
The sun sparkled and and its rays almost tickled as I breathed in the cool, crisp air. Marshmallow-fluff clouds – tinged in purple – kept the sun company in a cyan blue sky. It was a spectacular winter day.
It was the sort of day that made me glad to be outside. Not too far from the Kitchen is a winding, little stream. Today, it was dark and languid. Snowy banks twinkling in the sunlight where punctuated by inky, bare tree trucks that broke through the wintery cloth blanketing the ground. Time was short and I didn’t have time to explore the woods, but the idea of foraging set up camp in my mind.
On n’est pas sorti l’auberge
To the Kitchen!
Back in the warm Kitchen, drinking an espresso, winter’s kisses faded from my nose and cheeks. As much as you can linger over espresso, I lingered. And I thought. Mostly about foraging and about food. Folks who know me know that I am almost always thinking about food – what I plan to cook today, what I cooked yesterday, what surprises the market will have that will inspire me tomorrow.
For me, cooking works like that – these days, it’s more inspiration than instruction. Not that I’m above learning a new trick or two. What’s life, if not to learn and love? Anyway, back to today’s inspiration. I floated back twenty-plus years to a cozy French bistro where I was introduced to Crêpes Forestières: mushrooms, spinach and a béchamel nestled inside crispy crêpes. These would a hearty, warming meal that sounded just perfect for today. Except …
- I have only one crêpe pan and I had no intention of standing over the stove for two hours making crêpes.
- I have thin-sliced chicken breast in the refrigerator – and I really, really ought to do something with that.
- My brother-in-law and sister-in-law have decided to stop by “mid-afternoon” today. I love them dearly, but mid-afternoon is a pretty broad time horizon. I need something that cooks up in a flash.
Hmmm. Short on time. Thin-sliced chicken breast. Mushrooms in the ‘fridge and spinach in the freezer. Check, check, check.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb thin-cut chicken breast
- 2 tbsp butter
- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 C sherry
- 1 C beef stock
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 C frozen spinach, chopped (or 2 C fresh spinach)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to the pan. When the oil is hot (shimmering, but not smoking), add the chicken to the pan. Cook the chicken 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from pan.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and add the butter to the pan.
- Once the butter's melted, add the sliced mushrooms. Cook approximated 5 minutes. When the mushrooms are browned on one side, flip and brown on the other side.
- After the mushrooms have browned and released their water, remove the pan from the heat. Add the sherry and return the pan to the heat. Deglaze the pan. Gently boil for about 5 minutes, until the alcohol has evaporated and the liquid is reduced to a few tablespoons.
- Add the beef stock, oyster sauce, thyme, garlic powder and onion powder to the pan. Cook gently for about 5 minutes.
- Add the frozen spinach and cook covered for about 7-8 minutes.
- Return the chicken to the pan and cook for an additional 5 minutes.