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VPR Cafe: Real Vermont Chicken

flickr Mary.W.E. 4592692243

Sunday, November 17, 2013, 10:45 a.m.  Localvores who want Vermont raised chicken are now finding more options at the co-op and grocery store. Two Vermont farms are now slaughtering and processing chicken on site, opening up new markets for small poultry farms.

Candace Page, who writes for theSavorvore Section of The Burlington Free Press, visited one of these farms to see first hand how chickens are slaughtered, inspected and processed.  She explains why local chicken costs so much more - and why it's worth it.

The VPR Cafe is produced in collaboration with the Burlington Free Press and is made possible on VPR by J.K. Adams, offering Vermont made products for the kitchen and home.  In Dorset, Vermont and   Learn more about Tangletown Farm in West Glover and  Maple Wind Farm in Richmond and Huntington.

There’s no avoiding the fact that boneless, skinless chicken breasts from a small Vermont farm are going to cost as much as steak. So save them for a special occasion and pull out this Julia Child recipe rich with mushrooms, wine and heavy cream. The recipe has several steps, but all of them are easy.

Child warns, in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, “The flesh of a perfectly cooked (breast) is white with the faintest pinky blush, its juices run clear yellow, and it is definitely juicy. Its point of doneness is easily determined as it cooks.  Press the top of it with your finger; if it is still soft and yields slightly to the touch, it is not yet done. As soon as the flesh springs back with a gentle resilience, it is ready. If there is no springiness, it is overcooked.”

Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Cream
For the mushrooms:
5 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot or green onion
¼ pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/8 teaspoon salt
Heavy, covered, fireproof casserole, about 10 inches in diameter
For the chicken:
4 boned chicken breasts
½ teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Big pinch of white pepper
A round of waxed paper 10 inches in diameter, buttered on one side
For the sauce:
¼ cup white or brown stock or canned beef bouillon
¼ cup port, Madeira or dry white vermouth
1 cup whipping cream
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice as needed
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 5 tablespoons of butter in the casserole over moderate heat until foaming. Stir in minced shallots and sauté a moment without browning. Stir in the mushrooms and sauté lightly for a minute or two without browning. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Rub the chicken breasts with drops of lemon juice and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place the breasts in the hot casserole with the mushrooms. Lay the buttered paper on top, cover casserole and place in the hot oven. After six minutes, press top of the breasts with your finger. When the meat is springy to the touch it is done. Remove the breasts to a warm platter and cover while making the sauce.

Pour the stock and wine into the casserole with the cooking butter and mushrooms. Boil down quickly over high heat until the liquid is syrupy. Stir in the cream and boil down again over high heat until the cream has thickened slightly. Off heat, taste carefully for seasoning, and add drops of lemon juice to taste. Pour the sauce over the breasts, sprinkle with parsley and serve at once.

-- From Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Alfred A. Knopf, 1966


Franny was VPR's Director of Programming & Production.
Ric was a producer for Vermont Edition and host of the VPR Cafe.
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