Ryan Thomas is a university graduate who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.
This recipe perfectly represents French country cooking: simple fare that relies on simple, everyday ingredients like chicken, zucchini, carrots, cream, and beer. This particular recipe may come from the North of France, which may explain the inclusion of beer—but I am not really sure.
I love the way that the vegetables flavor and infuse the beer, and vice versa. The result is a soothing, definitively green, springtime flavor, which is then livened up and enriched by garlic, cream, and a host of seasonings. It is a real pleasure to eat and very easy to do so—particularly when served over grains to soak up the sauce, such as couscous, rice, or pasta. If it wasn't for how wonderfully these grains complement the dish, I would be able to sell it as a one-pot meal, but they are definitely worth including alongside it!
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I adapted this recipe, with heavy modifications, from the book Floyd on France, by Keith Floyd. Having bought it in a little-used book store during a recent trip from my home in Humboldt County to Mount Shasta to see my relatives and go skiing, I have found it to have some great recipes so far, some of which are very nicely illustrated.
- 4 pounds chicken breasts
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 zucchinis, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 1 pint pale ale
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 1 teaspoon tarragon
- Salt and pepper
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Olive oil
- Cut up the chicken into bite-sized cubes, around 1 or 1/2 inch across. Rub salt and pepper into them.
- Heat some olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over high heat. Once it is hot, add the chicken pieces and then the onion. Sauté until the chicken is browned. Then add in the ale, followed by tarragon and thyme.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer. After 20 minutes, add in the carrots. After another 20 minutes, add in the zucchini.
- In another 20 minutes, thus around 1 hour of cumulative cooking time, remove all of the solid food from the sauce (keep it hot in something like a covered casserole dish and put in an unheated oven or microwave). For the sauce, raise the heat to high and reduce the beer by half.
- Once it is reduced, add in the cream, butter, brandy, and garlic. Continue to reduce somewhat for a few minutes, then add back in the solid ingredients, and chopped cilantro for a garnish, and turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper as appropriate, and serve immediately, over rice, couscous, pasta, or another grain.