The Julia Child Chicken Recipe That Never Lets Me Down
I was just out of college when I made Julia Child’s Suprêmes de Volaille aux Champignons for the first time. I’d agreed to host some friends for dinner and wanted to make something special but super manageable. “The suprême is an easy morsel to cook,” writes Julia in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This sounded promising. I splurged on a bottle of white Burgundy (per Julia’s recommendation), got Carla Bruni humming on my iPod, and enjoyed the phenomenal smells wafting through my galley kitchen. There was no way this was going to be a flop — and it wasn’t. It was magic.
Hundreds of recipes pair chicken with a mushroom cream sauce, but Julia’s version is the one I make again and again. It’s my answer to countless dinner dilemmas. Getting late and need something quick? Suprêmes. Too exhausted to cook? Suprêmes. Guests coming for dinner? Suprêmes. It requires only a handful of ingredients (that I always seem to have) and minimal effort. No matter the occasion, this dish wins every single time. It’s buttery, comforting, and the best way to turn meh chicken breast into something that dazzles.
How to Make Julia Child’s Suprêmes de Volaille aux Champignons
Suprêmes de Volaille aux Champignons is listed in Mastering the Art of French Cooking as a variation of the master recipe Suprêmes de Volaille a Blanc. You’ll begin with the variation and finish with the master recipe. Making it is easy, and there’s plenty of room to put your own spin on things.
First, melt the butter in a large skillet and cook the minced shallot until softened. You can also use scallions, and I’ve even used leeks. Next, add the mushrooms. According to the recipe, both of these cook “without browning,” so keep your heat level in check. When the mushrooms have softened, turn your attention to the master recipe. Julia’s instructions say to rub the chicken breast “with drops of lemon juice,” but I skip this and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the dish at the end. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add the chicken to the pan, and turn to coat in the butter. No browning here either — just butter up both sides.
Now the chicken is ready for the oven. I tend to bypass the greased parchment paper and just lid my pan. Transfer to the oven and bake until the chicken is fully cooked. The recipe says six minutes, which (Julia, I love you) will definitely *not* be enough time. I recommend using an instant-read thermometer and check for the chicken to reach an internal temperature of 165°F. I’ve found this usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the cooked chicken to a plate and keep warm. The only thing left to make is the sauce, which includes a few different options. To the pan, you’ll add either chicken or beef stock and a splash of port, Madeira, or white vermouth. I use whatever extra wine I have on hand — red or white. Bring this to a boil (I keep it around medium-high heat) and cook until the mixture has reduced slightly, about six minutes. Pour in the cream and continue to boil until the sauce has thickened, about five minutes. The sauce will continue to thicken as it sits, so don’t overdo it. Turn off the heat, add a squeeze of lemon, and season to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken (sometimes I just add the chicken back into the pan and spoon the sauce over top) and sprinkle with fresh parsley.
I’ve made this dish so often, I don’t even look at the recipe anymore. I’ve served it with fluffy mashed potatoes, velvety risotto, buttered egg noodles, and even plain white rice. This rich and flavorful dish is simple enough for a weeknight dinner, yet luxurious enough to serve to guests. Whatever you’ve got going on, Suprêmes de Volaille aux Champignons is a guaranteed hit.
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