Mushroom-Sage Sauce & Squash Risotto

We are in the midst of moving right now (literally, thinks to scheduled posting). Due to my work schedule, size of some of our furniture and general laziness, we hire movers from Two Men and a Truck and they are doing the heavy lifting this afternoon. This will be my 4th move with them since March 2007 and the fifth between Chris and I- how about a volume discount.

For me, using Two Men became a necessity after moving myself (with my parents & aunt’s help) in to a 2nd floor apartment in Charlotte: the building was 120 years old and the 2nd floor was 27 steps up. And it poured rain that day- there might have even been a tornado that night. I immediately started saving money aside for my next move so I could hire movers and I did just that a short 6 months later thanks to my hard-partying, drug-dealing upstairs neighbor. Meeting Chris and moving in with him was a wonderful thing but it also meant that most of my stuff went to storage while we finished out his lease in a 1 bedroom apartment. Our current place, while 2 bed/2 bath was still not big enough for both our belongings and things like my washer/dryer were not needed. Finally, after the dog came to live with us in July, it became glaringly obvious that we needed more room and a place with space to store things rather than pay the storage company another 100 bucks a month.

Our new house, while still a rental, is awesome. Its not huge but we have 3 bedrooms: one for us, one for guests and one as an office/craft room (for me, Chris is not a scrapbooker). A bigger kitchen, a great view of the 10 acres inhabited by deer, wild turkey and something I heard running around in the trees last night. Oh yeah, and a garden tub in the master bath plus, drumroll please: a gas stove!!!

To save time (and money) with the movers, we have been taking boxes of things over to the house, a bit at a time, since October 1. As of Thursday morning, we had the pots and pans, some utensils and most of the dishware in the house. But other than pantry foods, we hadn’t moved or bought any edibles. With Chris’s brother in town, eating out was an opportunity/excuse to eat out but that was getting expensive. So, last night, Chris bought some chicken, squash and beans before calling me on my drive home from work to ask if I “wanted” to come to the house and cook dinner. As soon as he mentioned squash, I knew he wanted the risotto so I sent him out for broth while I stopped at the apartment to load another box with things like butter, olive oil and the like. While at the apartment, I did a quick search for some kind of sauce for the chicken as I didn’t have time to marinate nor did I feel like doing the whole breadcrumbs thing.

Over at Elise’s blog, I found a recipe for Mushroom Sage Sauce. Simply Recipes is one of my go-to websites although I often end up varying from her original based on what’s on hand. While you are there, check out the pictures of her parents’ new kitchen. I’m definitely saving those links for some future reference (I hope).

As per usual, I varied but did use the main elements from this Mushroom Sage sauce recipe. I probably would have been slightly more faithful except I didn’t write anything down and did not have access to the recipe once I got to the house.

Original Ingredients
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots
8-10 ounces mushrooms, cremini or shitake, thickly sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream (light cream may curdle, so use heavy cream)
3 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pieces pounded to an even 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch thickness
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

I only had 1/2 package of mushrooms and no parsley. I did have creme fraiche but didn’t use it here because I forgot. With less mushrooms, I used less sage, about 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped. To add liquid, I used some of the extra broth from the risotto and then swirled in one tablespoon butter at the end.

In Elise’s version, she cooked the mushroom sauce separate from the chicken. Since I already had a burner going to simmer the broth and another for the risotto, I opted to cook the chicken first, hold it warm in the oven and prepare the sauce using any pan drippings/fond to add more flavor.

Basics:

1. Season chicken with salt, pepper and seasonings of your choice. While in Vermont, we bought some Maple Pepper with Garlic so I used that (just like it sounds, pepper with maple sugar and garlic).

2. Heat pan over medium-high heat with olive oil. Saute chicken breasts until light golden, about 5 minutes per side.

3. Remove from pan, cover to keep warm.

4. Add chopped shallots and garlic to pan, plus a little more oil if the pan is a bit dry. Cook about 1 minute then add mushrooms. Allow mushrooms to soften and release their juices. Add 1/2 cup wine to pan to deglaze.

5. Add about 1 cup broth to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer until slightly reduced. Just before serving add 1 tablespoon butter to thicken sauce.

 


 

To accompany the chicken with mushroom sauce, I made the squash risotto which Chris loves so much. This time, I used some butternut squash from the freezer. Chris had bought me a squash- the biggest butternut squash I’ve ever seen. Peeling and chopping that sucker is going to take some time so I was quite happy to have my freezer stash for last night!!

For this version, I used Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc which was on sale at Horrocks and received 90 points from Wine Spectator. Seasonings were sage, thyme and a little cayenne (to counter the sweet squash). I also used about 1/3 cup of Creme Fraiche instead of butter at the end. For cheese, I had picked up of chunk of their special of the week: a really nutty, easily grateable variety from D&W in Williamston last weekend. Fresh sage at the end really added to the “oomph” factor and made the whole house smell delicious!

Both boys went back for seconds so its still a hit.

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