Chicken breast is not my favourite meat in the world. Growing up I had some fairly bad experiences with the ‘white meat’. It was almost always overcooked, dry, bland and rubbery. Sound familiar? Things didn’t change when I first started dieting as a teenager. My friends told me that in order to lose weight I had to eat chicken breast morning, noon and night. You see, chicken breast is a very lean meat and, as such, is believed to be good for the dieting crowd. I was also told to avoid seasoning it with salt for fear of retaining water. That may all be true but consuming 3 chicken breasts a day with nothing more than a dash of pepper is not exactly healthy either! The last piece of sage advice I received from my wise friends is that chicken breast would have to be either grilled, poached or roasted in the oven without any oil. Again, oil is fat and fat was, and for many people still is, the enemy! I’ve come a long way since my ‘dieting’ days. I know that healthy fats are in fact healthy and bad fats are not. I also know that eating a lean protein like chicken breast is not necessarily as important as consuming an animal that was allowed to pasture and was raised without the use of antibiotics and hormones.
What I didn’t know was that, aside from myself, many people love chicken breast for it’s neutral flavour, shape, colour and texture. Me? I think it’s the least inspiring meat known to man. There are so many things I’d rather eat. I’m talking lamb, beef, bison, venison, fish, shellfish, pork, goat, alligator. You name it! Chicken, especially breast, is possibly the last thing I think of when I want meat. Don’t get me wrong, I love the dark meat of chicken. Thighs, legs, and wings, will be devoured with delight! Just keep that white stuff to yourself! So, when I say that I have created a chicken breast recipe that I actually enjoy eating I want you to know that I sincerely mean it.
Paleo Chicken with Mushroom and Tarragon Cream Sauce
This recipe for Paleo Chicken with Mushroom and Tarragon Cream Sauce is one such recipe. Probably up there with my Chicken Piccata, which I absolutely love! In fact, they’re very similar as far as cooking technique and instructions go. I start by dredging some thinly-sliced chicken breasts in tapioca flour and shallowing frying them in a bit of avocado oil before creating a pan sauce. Instead of the garlic, capers, stock and lemon juice used in the Piccata, I opt for some mushrooms, garlic, coconut milk and tarragon. The result is a creamy, velvety, luxurious sauce that gets spooned overtop of the crispy chicken.
If you are not a fan of coconut milk (I’ve heard there are a few of you out there) then this may not be the recipe for you. However, I encourage you to try it because the flavour ends up getting very muted by the garlic and tarragon. In fact, I’ve made this for my family a few times now and they can’t believe there’s no cream in it!
I love to serve this overtop of some mashed yams. I think the white-fleshed, Japanese yams work really well here. The orange, sweet potatoes are too sweet. To make the yams, I peel and cube them, throw them in a pot of salted boiling water, drain, add chopped garlic, a pinch of salt, a glug or two of EVOO and mash with a fork. If you prefer something I bit lighter, you can serve the Chicken with Mushroom and Tarragon Sauce overtop of some cauliflower purée. Both options work really well!
3 Tips When Dredging with Tapioca Starch
Be sure to follow these three steps when dredging meat with tapioca flour. Otherwise, you may end up with a gummy finished product!
1. Make sure the chicken is very dry before dredging. Take your time to thoroughly pat the chicken with paper towel. Otherwise the starch will absorb the surface moisture.
2. Do not dredge ahead of time. Ideally, you want to dredge the chicken immediately before frying. Otherwise the starch will absorb the moisture of the chicken and it will not brown as nicely.
3, Make sure your oil is preheated. If your oil is not hot enough the starch will absorb it and it will not get as crispy.
I hope you like it and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Chicken with Mushroom and Tarragon Cream Sauce
INGREDIENTS: (serves 2)
2 chicken breasts – thinly sliced lengthwise
227 gr mushrooms – cremini, button, or portobello
2-3 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 tbsp ghee
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh tarragon – finely chopped
small bunch of chives – finely chopped for garnish
tapioca flour – enough for dredging chicken
salt and pepper
- Slice chicken breasts lengthwise into 1/4″ filets. Season all sides with salt and pepper.
- Preheat 2-3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, lightly dredge the seasoned chicken breast filets in tapioca starch.
- Carefully add the dredged chicken filets to the hot oil and pan-fry for 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Note, depending on size of skillet you may have to work in batches.
- Transfer browned chicken to a paper towel-lined tray.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, add 1 tbsp ghee and mushrooms. Season with a pinch of salt and sauté 5-7 minutes or until softened and slightly browned. Add garlic and sauté an additional 60 seconds.
- Pour in coconut milk and use a wooden spoon to scrape off any brown bits that formed on the bottom of the pan. Season with black pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce by 1/2 – approximately 5-7 minutes. Taste sauce for seasoning and adjust as needed. Add the chopped tarragon at the very last minute.
- Transfer browned chicken to a serving platter and spoon the mushroom and tarragon sauce overtop. Garnish with finely chopped chives and serve with mashed yams or cauliflower purée.