I’ve seen on the French news this morning that comsumptions of Champagne reached an all-time high this Holiday season, in France (up 6% from last year). Which to many “sociologists” is a result of the wave of optimism swirling among the French these days. Yes, believe it or not, the French (world-famous for their grumpiness) are in a good mood right now.
After a few morose years, France is wrapping up a somewhat positive year, with a brand new shiny president, a reformist government and a re-emerging ecomony – many things to be positive about. And with a good mood comes champagne… and more champagne! (so they say).
So it just felt a perfect fit for me today to introduce this delightful Chicken in Champagne Cream Sauce recipe. A perfect way to enjoy a little champagne in your life, in a different way (or simply to make use of opened champagne bottles in your fridge, that you don’t necessary feel like drinking.)
Once a rustic recipe from the Champagne region of France, the fame of this dish found birth in New York City in the late 1990s. The Chicken in Champagne Cream Sauce was served at the La Caravelle, a classic French dining room living on 55th Street, under the name “Poularde Maison Blanche” (literally meaning “homemade white chicken”) and was a favorite of the Kennedys, who were regulars at La Caravelle.
Surely chic in name and in fame, this Chicken in Champagne Cream Sauce is actually quite simple to make, and has a very homely feel to it. The champagne lends a very delicate flavour, but the simplicity of the chicken along with the cream and the mushrooms makes it a comforting dish for the whole family, during any occasion.
I also love how this recipe requires a whole chicken, and uses the carcass to make a bone chicken broth, which is then used to build the sauce of the dish.
- Champagne is a legally-protected name given solely to sparkling wine made from the grapes grown in the Champagne wine region in Northeastern France. Sparkling wines that don’t feature Champagne grapes cannot legally be called Champagne. While this recipe calls for real Champagne, it works perfectly with any kind of sparkling white wine (I actually used Codorniu Sparkling wine, because this is what I had on hand and it was delicious.)
- I have used white mushrooms (which is what the original recipe calls for), but you could also use morel mushrooms.
- I used about a quarter of the chicken broth (3 cups) for the sauce of the dish, and then kept the rest of the broth to make a light soup for dinner. Chicken broth also freezes well (in a Tupperware, for up to 6 months).
- If you are running out of time or want to keep it even more simple, buy chicken pieces instead of a whole chicken (the equivalent of 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings and 2 breasts) and pre-made chicken broth (either cubes or jarred).
- This dish is traditionally served with white rice.
Chicken in Champagne Cream SaucePrint This
1 whole chicken (3.5 lbs), divided in 4 (wings, thighs, legs and breasts) – keep the carcass.
½ bottle champagne (or sparkling wine)
200g white mushrooms
3 tbsp sour cream
For the chicken broth:
3 garlic cloves
1 leek (white part only)
For the roux:
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
Step 1. Prepare the chicken broth – Peel the onion and poke four cloves into it. Peel the garlic cloves and the carrots. Place everything in a large pot, cover with water, season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour.
Step 2. Peel and finely chop the shallots. Wash and slice the mushrooms. In a large frying pan, melt the butter and add the chicken pieces (expect for the chicken breasts – leave those aside for now). Add the mushrooms and shallots, and cook for about 20 minutes, until mushrooms are soft and chicken is golden.
Remove the chicken and mushrooms from the pan (set aside on a plate with foil on top to keep warm), and add the champagne into the pan to deglaze it (if needed, use a spatula to scrape off the bottom of the pan too). Simmer for 6-8 minutes, until a third of the champagne is evaporated.
Step 3. Prepare the roux – In a separate medium pot, melt the butter and add the flour, whisking until you get a thick paste. Dilute with 3.5 cups of the chicken stock and whisk until you get a veloute (slightly more liquidy than a bechamel).
Step 4. Pour the above veloute into the champagne reduction. Add in the sour cream and cook for 5 minutes.
Step 5. Add the chicken pieces back into the pan, along with the chicken breasts (still raw at this point). Cook for 12-15 minutes, on low heat (or a few minutes longer if the breasts still require it).
Serve with rice.