Fare for Fall

It’s officially fall, and time to think about alternate dishes for holiday feasts and family meals.

Of course for me, it’s great chicken dishes.  Here are two favorites.

Famous American Cafe Chicken Salad

Judy was a chef at the famous American Café in Georgetown, a restaurant featured in Gourmet Magazine.

Before California Chicken Salad with White Noodles was the fashion, and everyone flocked to White Flint’s eatery to have it for lunch, there was the fabulous American Cafe in Washington, D.C., that served a marvelous Chicken Salad with Tarragon. Loving chicken, I took a class called “Chicken Tout de Suite” at the Judy Harris Cooking School (www.judyharris.com) to learn to make that salad and other great chicken recipes. Her wonderful cooking school, to my delight, is still going strong.

The most fabulous chicken recipes that I learned at the Judy Harris Cooking School are the ones that I still use for special occasions and company dinners.  This is Judy Harris’s version of that chicken salad.

Chicken:

2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts, halved, skin on

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

freshly ground pepper

Salad:

1 cup good quality mayonnaise (Hellman’s Low Fat)

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt, coarse and kosher

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons chopped (1/4-inch long) fresh tarragon leaves

1/2 cup blanched, sliced almonds (toasting is optional)

Rinse chicken quickly under cold water, drain, and pat dry with paper towels.

Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven 375°F.  Lightly oil a baking pan and place chicken skin side up.

Place pan on the middle rack and bake until cooked, for 10 to 15 minutes to 160 degrees F.  Do not overcook, as this will result in tough, dry meat.

Remove the skin when cool enough to handle, and refrigerate until chilled.

Dice chicken into 1/2-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, salt and pepper.  Add the diced chicken, and gently toss until coated with the tarragon and almonds.

It is best if salad is covered and refrigerated overnight.   This was always served on a split, buttery croissant.

Serves 6 to 8.

Supremes of Chicken in Raspberry Sauce (Filet de Poulet au Vinaigre de Framboise)

For the Sauté

4 chicken breast halves, boneless, with skin on, trimmed of fat and patted dry with paper towels

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

salt, coarse and kosher

freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:

1/3 cup raspberry vinegar

2-3 tablespoons sugar

green tops of 1 leek or 2-3 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise

1 1/2 cups (preferably homemade) chicken stock

4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

fresh raspberries, if available

1 lb. snow peas strings removed, cook at the last minute in boiling salted water for 20 seconds

Heat a heavy, 10-inch sauté pan with butter and oil.  Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

Sauté the chicken skin side first, on a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Turn and sauté about 3 minutes more.  When the chicken is medium rare, remove it and place it between two plates to keep warm.  Place in a warm (150°F) oven, if necessary.  The chicken will continue to cook.

Remove any fat from the sauté pan and deglaze (using a whisk) with the vinegar. Reduce vinegar by half.  Remove the reduced vinegar and set aside.  Wash the pan to reuse.

In a second sauté pan, heat the sugar over medium-high heat until it caramelizes to a medium brown color.  Immediately add the leeks and stir well to stop the cooking and prevent the caramel from burning.  Add the stock and the reserved vinegar; reduce by half (you are reducing it again). Strain and press down on the vegetables, through a fine strainer. Swirl in the cold butter, and correct the seasoning. Don’t allow the sauce to get too hot or the butter will break down, i.e., separate.

Serve the chicken sliced thin and fanned out with the sauce drizzled over it, and garnish with a few fresh raspberries. Serve with the snow peas. Serves 4.

Editor’s note: For more edible delights by Sheilah Kaufman, go to www.cookingwithsheilah.com.

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