Monday, December 3, 2012

1970's Style Cooking : Winter White Wine Chicken AKA College Chicken

I love the night life...I want to boogie....on the Disco around oh yeah! ....ah the 1970's I don't really remember them. I was so little. However, it seems nowadays people are rediscovering the better parts of the style, furniture, decor, fashions and even foods that made the 1970's what they were. As a very little boy I have fond memories of my mother in big made up hair and long flowing dresses ready for parties with bright makeup and earthen bottles of Lancers rose wine from Portugal. And my Dad in a leisure suit....OK that NEVER happened, but the Lancers wine did!

Check this out!

See! Oh yeah and speaking of food trends lets talk about crock pot dinners. All day long cooked and braised meals all in one pot! Braising without the oven. And clean up was a breeze!

Now I love a crock pot and I love braised meat dishes in these colder days during the holiday season and on into the Winter months. Actually I love braised foods in general. They are easy and generally call for cheaper cuts of meat mostly beef, lamb or pork, which after long periods of cooking have their proteins broken down and give way to become juicy soft and delicious! Sumptuous indeed!

Virginia was the first State I lived in that had truly colder weather. I went to college in Harrisonburg, Virginia at James Madison University, in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. It's a small town, well it was then. Even though it was a small rural town, with the University being there, it had a somewhat vibrant and interesting culinary scene. Well... it at least had some good bar food.  In any event, one of the things I learned as a student was that being able to cook and invite your fellow students over made you very popular! I mean who had the money to eat out and who had the time to even cook. And someone else cooking for you, forget about it!

But home cooking in the late eighties in college was not what it was today. There were no television food gurus like Ina Garten and Bobby Flay to lead you through to a successful meal. There was the Frugal Gourmet on PBS. And reruns of Julia Child, but hardly the cacophony of information available today. So what did one do? Well you relied on cook books and on lessons learned at home. And you came up with solutions and ideas on your own.

So it was in college that I conspired with my roommates to prove that braising was a delectable way to prepare roasts and stews. Chop up some meat, some veggies pour in some liquid put on the crock pot and voila! My two roommates were from rural farms in Virginia and had grown up cooking like this in the winters all their lives. I came from the slow cooker suburban world so this all made sense. Together we would pool our resources divvy up the jobs and then cook for the day.

Well all I have to say about cooking in college was it did not matter what it was but it had to be cheap! And lets face it chicken was cheap. So chicken was always being eaten. But after months and months of boring chicken breasts I thought about cooking the chicken like a stew. Hardly original, Coco Vin not withstanding, I still thought I was pretty savvy to come up with this dish back then. Of course since then I have realized that nothing I have ever tried is original. Perhaps I have made things better, but never can I lay claim to inventing a dish someone has not thought of before me. Whew!! Pressure's off!

So what is Winter White Wine Chicken. It's chicken stewed in white wine, bacon, mushrooms and onions and finished with cream and served over buttered egg noodles. Tada! Like I said hardly original but let me add in a few comments that will make you appreciate this dish a little more. Firstly, it is very 1970's Graham Kerr ( aka the Galloping Gourmet). Why you ask? Well it's French in it's essence ( mock Coco Vin) which was very popular in the 1970's in the US. Secondly, it uses white sweet wine which was popularized then in the 1970's ( "chill a cella" or "cella-brate ) Hey, You gotta know what this is. Here...

Will the fun ever end on this blog! Did you see all the famous actors in that commercial, Wow!

 And thirdly it's a one pot meal that can be served table side which was also a big trend then! So Graham Kerr and the 70's obviously were at work in my head when I made this! Well that's what I might say now!

Of course in college it was because of a need to make things easy and cheap. And remember chicken is cheap! But in any event I got out this old recipe the other day and was reminded that the things I learned in college whether in Marketing class of in the kitchen are still relevant and in this case tasty, so please enjoy Ya'll!

White Wine Chicken over Buttered Noodles ( serves 6)

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into thirds
3 cloves garlic minced
4 leeks white and light green parts only chopped into disks ( OK in college it was 2 medium onions)
1/4 pound pancetta cubed or 6 strips of bacon chopped
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 lb white button or baby bella mushrooms halved
1 bottle riesling wine
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream
1 bunch of fresh thyme tied as a garni
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
1 lb egg country style Pennsylvania Dutch noodles cooked and buttered with chopped chives


In a heavy braising pot brown the bacon then add the garlic oil and the leeks and cook till soft then add chicken cook slightly then add the bay leaf, the thyme bundle, S&P and the whole bottle of wine. Put a top on the pot and cook for about an hour at a good simmer. Then add the cream and mustard and tarragon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer till reduced slightly and the sauce is thickened which takes about another 30 mins. 15 mins before serving throw in the mushrooms. Remove the thyme and the bay leaves.

Serve over the noodles. Enjoy!


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