One thing I’ve loved about French month is getting to learn a few killer sauces.
Sauces can be intimidating. A great sauce delivers a balance of flavors, a silky texture and leaves you wanting to lick the bowl clean.
For whatever reason, French sauces come across as extra fancy and maybe even… fussy. I have no science to back this observation up. But am I wrong?
Thankfully after making a few of them, I no longer feel this way at all. In fact, creating a great sauce is shockingly simple.
It also happens to be one of those skills that allows you to cook sans recipe. Know how to put together a good sauce and you can throw together a fancy dinner on a moments notice.
Today we’re eating Champaign Chicken because it has the most insanely delicious sauce.
This sauce is built with a champagne base and is thickened by a velouté (read on) and made creamy by creme fraiche.
A velouté is like a bechamel sauce, but a little thinner. It’s great when you’re looking to thicken up a creamy sauce but don’t want to add a boatload of milk to your dish.
Easily my favorite part of this dish is that you get to drink the other half of the bottle while you cook your Champagne Chicken.
Talk about a fancy French sauce.
I should note, you don’t have to use Champagne. A bottle of sparkling white wine will do, especially if it’s on the drier side. Remember: if you don’t like to drink it, you won’t want to eat it.
Champagne Chicken is hearty and a little decadent, so it’s the perfect dish to cook for someone you’re crazy about. This also means yourself. Because nothing is better than cooking yourself some fancy food when you don’t feel like ordering in.
I served this with rice, but a giant piece of crusty bread is also a fantastic idea.
Get all the sauce.
Recipe adapted from Pardon Your French.
(start making 45 minutes before you want Champagne Chicken)
*Use sour cream if you can’t find creme fraiche.
To a large deep pan or pot, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts to the hot pan and let cook for 10 minutes on each side. They will not cook all the way at this point.
Remove chicken, add 1 Tbsp of butter and add sliced mushrooms and chopped shallots. After 5-7 minutes, when mushrooms are brown and onions are soft, remove from pan.
Add 1/2 bottle of Champagne to the pot and let reduce for about 6-8 minutes. If needed, use a wooden spoon to scrape the bits from the bottom of the pan.
While this is happening, take a medium-sized pot and add 3 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add 2 Tbsp of flour and whisk. Once incorporated, add 3 cups chicken stock. Whisk until the mixture thickens.
You’ve just made velouté, which is a looser version of a bechamel sauce!
Add the velouté into the champagne reduction. Then add 3 Tbsp of creme fraiche. Whisk until combined.
Add the chicken and mushrooms back into the pan. Simmer for 12-15 minutes until chicken is cooked and the sauce reduces slightly.
Add salt/pepper to season. Top with parsley and serve with rice, potatoes or noodles.