We have three options here, including two vegan: local chicken but more heart healthy than my mom’s original, mushrooms replacing the chicken, or tofu replacing the chicken. All delicious, so take your pick.
My mother’s version of this dish used a whole cut-up chicken or thighs, all parts skin on and bone in, lots of butter, and heavy cream, not heart-friendly by any means! If this is on the menu now (the past week birthday request), I make the heart-healthy version, with local chicken, but it is just as delicious with portobello mushrooms or tofu as the star.
Let’s bring this into the 21st Century
To lighten this up, I used some local boneless, skinless chicken breasts from the farm down the road, full of flavor, organically raised, with a traveling carbon footprint of just a couple miles. To save even more saturated fat, I subbed light coconut milk for the heavy cream and olive oil for the butter. It is still creamy and tastes very much like the original, and pleases the meat eaters in the family.
Play with your herbs
You can swap out the herbs for others you like. Mom often used sage or her favorite Bell’s Seasoning, which is quite nice here. It is still sold in its little hard-to-open box. I like it best with rosemary and tarragon, and sometimes fennel seed if I also have a bulb on hand, but it is always about what strikes your own fancy when cooking, or, what is growing in the herb bed.
Fall in love with your local mushrooms!
I was lucky and found some lovely local mushrooms for this dish recently and it was a really nice mix. They were every bit as beautiful as the commercially produced ones they sat next to at the co-op, they were a bit more expensive, but they weren’t shipped from across the country, and that’s plus for me. You can use anything you love from shiitake to regular button mushrooms, it’s all good!
Another handy dish that is finished while the pasta cooks, but lovely enough for company, and there’s a vegetarian option following that uses tofu.
Chicken Medallions in White Wine with Wild Mushrooms
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into medallions, OR four large portobello mushrooms, same
- 2 tbsp. flour, *Wondra if you have it
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced
- 1 lb. wild mushrooms, a mix if possible, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 star anise
- 1 sprig of rosemary, whole
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2/3 cup homemade mushroom stock, below, or other stock
- 2 tbsp. fresh parsley
- 2 tsp. fresh minced tarragon or 1 tsp. dried
- ½ cup light coconut milk, or a little more
- 1 lb. whole wheat penne or other pasta, or brown rice
Prep the vegetables, reserving any mushroom stems, as well as enough onion to make two tablespoons minced for the stock. Combine stock ingredients, below, and let simmer while you make the rest of the dish. This isn’t essential, you can use whatever stock you have, but if you have this little bits, why not put them to work? Cut the chicken into medallions, and set aside.
Put pasta water on, or prepare brown rice. I like it both ways.
Season the chicken medallions with salt and pepper and dust with the flour. Heat a large skillet over medium high and add the oil. When shimmering, add the chicken chunks and brown lightly on both sides. You don’t want them fully cooked yet. Remove from the pan, cover them, add a bit more oil to the pan, and toss in the onion and mushrooms, seasoning them as well.
Continue cooking until the onions have softened, and everything has started to take on a bit of color. Add the garlic, star anise, and rosemary sprig, and continue cooking for a minute or so, until fragrant.
Sprinkle just a bit more flour over all, mix everything up, then add the stock and white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown glaze; let this reduce a few minutes. Toss the chicken back in, along with the tarragon and parsley, and continue to cook, uncovered, another five minutes or so, until the chicken is cooked through, then stir in the coconut milk and remove from heat, covered. Taste for seasoning.
Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of liquid, and plate it. If the chicken mixture needs to be loosened, add some of the reserved pasta water. Fish out the rosemary spring and star anise, no one wants these! Serve chicken over the pasta (or rice) in a large bowl or platter, and garnish with fresh herbs.
- Wondra flour is that old time precooked flour in the funny round box that your mother probably had stuffed in the back of the pantry. Because it is precooked, it browns much quicker than raw flour and is great in browning a thin protein you don’t want to overcook, or to make a quick roux for gravy.
- 1 oz. dried mushrooms
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp. minced onion
- 1 star anise
- Any other vegetable trimmings on hand
Combine everything and simmer for 15 minutes. Let sit until room temperature, then drain.
This dish is easily adapted to a pressed, extra-firm tofu, that you have baked to firm it up even more. My instructions for Baked tofu here. Or you can use large, meaty portobello mushrooms in place of the chicken, just cut them into desired size, remove the gills (add this to the stock) and proceed as with chicken.
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