Whether you are cooking for two or a crowd this is the perfect entertaining dinner. Serve something like an artichoke as a first course and a lemon cake as dessert and you are all set. The best is to put the rice on to cook. Then, saute the chicken breasts gently and lay them in a roasting pan. Saute the mushrooms, then make the sauce and pour it over the chicken. You can finish the cooking whenever you want — the chicken breasts can wait up to 2 hours. Ten minutes before eating start the carrots and zucchini. The trick is to serve a large spoonful of rice in the middle of the plate, place the chicken breast at an angle over the rice so it is not flat. Spoon the sauce on the chicken not —the rice; and garnish with the julienne of carrots and zucchini — a simple dish that looks great!
Bone or have the butcher bone the chicken breasts. Place each breast, shiny side down on a wooden board, cover with a piece of waxed paper and pound gently with a meat pounder to make even in height. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Put enough butter and oil in a wide saute pan to reach 1/4-inch depth. Heat until the bubbles subside. Without crowding the pan, place 3 or 4 chicken breasts in the pan and saute gently until golden on each side. Remove from pan and place in a roasting pan. When all the chicken breasts are cooked, pour off all but a tablespoon of the fat in the pan, add the shallots and brandy and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, add the mushrooms, and cook until half wilted. Spoon the mushrooms over the chicken breasts.
Add the white wine, chicken stock and bouquet garni into the pan. Cook 5 to 6 minutes until the mixture is reduced. Add the cream and continue cooking until thickened. (At this point if you would like a thicker sauce, you can whisk in up to 1 Tbs. of arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved in cold water.) Taste the sauce and add salt, pepper and sherry to taste. Pour over the chicken, place the roasting pan in a preheated 325 degree oven for 5 to 6 minutes, until the breasts are firm to the touch.
Cook the onions and garlic in a medium saucepan in the butter until soft. Add the rice and stir over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the stock and salt. Bring to a boil and cover tightly. Simmer about 25 minutes, until the liquid has cooked away. Turn off the heat and let rice stand 10 minutes.
Use the pilaff as directed above or . . . to make a ring of rice, simply put the cooked rice in a buttered 6-cup ring mold, press down, and invert it onto a serving platter. A few cooked green peas or diced green or red peppers can be mixed with the rice before molding.
Serves 6 to 8
Remove the leaves from the carrots, peel them, and cut them into 2-inch julienne (about 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch). Place them in a medium-sized saute pan with the butter, a sprinkling of salt, and enough water to barely cover. Let simmer gently until almost tender when pierced with a fork.
Cut the zucchini, green part only, in roughly the same size julienne as the carrots. When the carrots are almost cooked, add the zucchini and cook for 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper and serve.