Since October, I’ve probably made two dozen of the recipes from Around My French Table, about half with this group and half just because I have a lot of awesome recipes to catch up on. Some of them have been really fantastic, and I will make them again in the future (the beef daube, for instance, and the pumpkin stuffed with everything good), while others were definitely a one-shot thing (last week’s cauliflower soup comes immediately to mind).

And then there’s this dish. This is the kind of dish I’d order in a restaurant and be unconvinced that I could make it as good at home. It’s elegant, rich, and seemingly complicated. But it’s not. It’s quite simple and quite fast too. And it’s now one of my top five favorite recipes from this book. Granted, that’s only out of the about two dozen I’ve made, so that may very well change in the future. For now, though, it ranks as a favorite. It’s a lovely, creamy fall dish – rich, but not in a way that made me feel like I’d over-indulged. I did as Dorie suggested and made the lemon-steamed spinach to go with it, and that really helped to lighten up the meal as a whole. With a little bit of my rustic bread to sop up any extra sauce, it made for a comforting late-fall meal.

It’s a one-pan dish, which I have come to appreciate a great deal. It also gave me so much-needed practice in making pan sauces, something I do not do nearly often enough, especially considering how easy it is to do. It’s another thing I love so much about this book. I feel like I’m not just making recipes, I feel like I’m learning more about the food itself and the cooking techniques involved. Really, all we’re doing here is sauteing some chicken, throwing in some flavor-boosting additions, and making a sauce pan. All from scratch.

Mise en place! It's rare that I have it all so organized. Usually, everything is strewn across the kitchen. Chicken, apples, mushrooms, brandy, chicken stock, and cream.

Mise en place! It’s rare that I have it all so organized. Usually, everything is strewn across the kitchen. Chicken, apples, mushrooms, brandy, chicken stock, and cream.

The chicken is dredged in seasoned flour and sauteed for a few minutes. And yes, I used real butter and grapeseed oil for this. Spray oil is not enough for a cast-iron skillet. Lubrication is key.

The chicken is dredged in seasoned flour and sauteed for a few minutes. And yes, I used real butter and grapeseed oil for this. I don’t regret it. Don’t worry, it’s not something I do on a regular basis.

After the chicken is browned some, the apples and mushrooms go into the pan and get cooked for a bit. Oh, this smelled just wonderful.

After the chicken is browned some, the apples and mushrooms go into the pan and get cooked for a bit. Oh, this smelled just wonderful.

In goes the brandy, the broth, and the cream, giving each a couple minutes to reduce.  Although I halved the amount of meat for the recipe, I kept the original amounts for the sauce, which explains why my chicken looks like its going for a creamy swim.

In goes the brandy, the broth, and the cream, giving each a couple minutes to reduce. Although I halved the amount of meat for the recipe, I kept the original amounts for the sauce, which explains why my chicken looks like its going for a creamy swim.

All served up on a platter and ready to go. The chicken is under there somewhere.

All served up on a platter and ready to go. The chicken is under there somewhere.

It took all of thirty minutes, from chicken in the pan to chicken on the plate. It does need some attention at the stove, but if you’re attending it carefully, you’re not going to have to rush around and do things minute-by-minute. There was no stress involved in making this dish, which is always a good thing. Everything went exactly as Dorie said it would.

I loved this meal. I did over-salt the spinach a little, but overall, it went quite well with the chicken. I thought the chicken was perfect. The apples and mushrooms complemented the meat quite well, and the sauce was simply divine. Creamy and decadent, a little sweet from the apples and the brandy, it was rich without being overwhelmingly so. And there was just enough of it. It didn’t smother the plate, and it wasn’t cloying. It was a comfortable fit, just the way it should be.

Geordie thought it needed bacon, and that was the only borderline critical thing he had to say about it. A dish well-received.

It's not the most colorful dish, so the green of the spinach is nice for adding a little color too. But, oh, it is all so delicious.

It’s not the most colorful dish, so the green of the spinach is nice for adding a little color too. But, oh, it is all so delicious.

We also had a nice talk about my cooking habits. There are, perhaps, a handful of dishes I make the same way over and over again. Pot pie (with variations) is one of them. Chicken or eggplant parmesan is another. Geordie’s Auntie Lynne’s Portuguese kale soup.  Oven-fried buttermilk chicken. And even these aren’t things I make often; I just tend to use the same recipes and methods because I know they’re reliable. My preference, though, is to cook completely new dishes every week. Since moving to Texas, I have not made the same thing twice (not counting bread and hummus). I wanted to make sure Geordie was okay with this, because I know some people like to have the same comforting, dependable dishes every few weeks or so. Geordie’s response: “As long as it tastes good, you can make however many new meals you want.”

And this makes me happy. Because there are so many interesting recipes out there to try! I can’t imagine making the same thing again and again, month after month. I’ve done it, and it bored me. Part of what I love about cooking is that there is always something new to try, whether it’s a new ingredient, a new flavor combination, a new technique, or a new anything. It’s constant exploration and experimentation.

Now, all that being said, I’d definitely make this dish again. Maybe not any time soon, though Geordie hinted that he’d be happy to eat it again before spring comes along. But it’s certainly a dish I would add to my fall menu. It’s a lovely dish, and it certainly deserves a repeat performance.

This has been a popular recipe among the Doristas! Check out the French Friday links to see their rave reviews and beautiful à la normande dishes! Also, a big shout out to the Doristas who have taken part in the holiday card exchange. I’ve got a wonderful display of cards going on in my foyer – I can’t wait to share pictures when it’s full! Thank you, fellow Dorie fans!

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