Jacques Pépin’s Chicken in Cream Sauce (Poulet à la Crème) is an adaptation of his mother’s recipe. Jacques added white wine and mushrooms to the basic recipe. This change brings about a subtle sophistication in the flavor. Of course, the Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen staff and I knew this would be a perfect dish to try out and share with you. – So, let’s head to the kitchen and make Serendipity Chicken with Cream Sauce.
Hi! Thanks for joining me today.
There are few places I’d rather be than cooking in the SFH Test Kitchen. Yes, even now in the midst of the longest heat wave of the year, this kitchen is a joy. That’s because this is where my Hubby and I can be together and share the adventure of cooking.
Why test Jacques’s recipe for chicken with cream sauce?
Jacques admits that his mother might not approve of the changes he made to her recipe. But he notes that his recipe “is easy, fast, and good.” We at the SFH Test Kitchen understand that the essence of creative cooking is the desire to take an excellent recipe and make it your own. So just as Jacques adapted his mother’s recipe, we too will add our own personal touches. – Our goal is to take a simple French country meal and turn it into a simple everyday farmhouse meal.
Level of the challenge
I take Jacques at his word when he says his recipe “is easy, fast, and good.” Unlike the adherence to technique demonstrated by some chefs, Jacques follows a more relaxed approach. This is easy to see when one reads his recipe and then views two or three videos showing how he cooks the dish himself. – It’s never done the same way twice.
This is a meal meant to be cooked by the average mom, just like Jacques’s mother cooked it for him. It could be a great restaurant meal, but it works quite well in a simple farmhouse.
Selection of good-quality ingredients
Jacques’s recipe calls for fresh tarragon. But none was available. Fortunately, last year Hubby dehydrated our homegrown SFH tarragon. It worked quite well as a taste substitute, though it was lacking in its visual presentation.
Skillful, creative substitution is what separates a good chef from an apprentice short-order cook.
Using good-quality ingredients doesn’t mean you have to pay a premium price. Most of our ingredients were purchased at Aldi, Walmart, and Sam’s Club. We shop our own pantry, Aldi “red tags”, and all the sales. Rest assured; this is a meal that doesn’t have to be expensive.
Use of cooking techniques
This recipe does not require a master chef to be in the kitchen with you. No, this is a meal that can be handled by a dedicated amateur cook. – Nevertheless, basics are basics. How you hold the knife, how you brown the chicken, and how you make a simple cream sauce, these are techniques that must learned and practiced. All of these skills are essential to making this recipe work.
Development of superior taste and flavor
Now, I’ll let you in on a little cooking secret. A chicken thigh without the skin is not necessarily my favorite thing. That’s why, when I read this recipe, I was a bit perplexed. Despite my deep respect for Jacques, I chose to leave the skins on.
Here’s why. – The primary taste components of this dish are the chicken and the creme sauce. Unfortunately, the taste of chicken without the skin is overcome by the cream sauce. When the skin is left on and browned, the taste of the chicken and the cream sauce are united. – It is a marriage feast of flavor.
Ironically, in a video you can watch here, Jacques left the skins on. The video was made a year after this recipe was published. Thanks to my Hubby for finding the video. Now I know Jacques and I are not so very different.
Jacques says that his mother would serve this dish with rice pilaf. However, he makes no recommendations concerning how the dish should be served.
My sweet hubby suggested that since it is a rustic, country dish, it might go well with homemade sourdough bread. So, he made a loaf, and guess what? – He was right!
Jacques Pépin was absolutely correct. His Chicken in Cream Sauce (Poulet à la Crème) “is easy, fast, and good.” – So, try it out and tell us what you think. Until then.
If you would like to learn more about Jacques’s recipe for chicken with cream sauce, here are some resources that will help.
- 2015 – Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen – This is the cookbook with the recipe and background commentary by Jacques.
- 2015 – Poulet à la Crème – This is an article containing a full excerpt of the recipe and commentary from the book Heart & Soul in the Kitchen.
- 2016 – Jacques Pépin’s Chicken with Cream Sauce – In this episode of the Rachael Ray Show, Jacques demonstrates how to prepare this dish. This video is fun because Jacques’s daughter Claudine and granddaughter Shorey join him in the cooking.
Did you like this post? If so and you want to see other Jacques Pépin recipes tested by the SFH Test Kitchen, please click here. Of course, your questions and comments are greatly appreciated.
Poulet à la Crème - Serendipity Chicken with Cream Sauce
- 1 Large saucepan
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 chicken thighs: about 3 pounds, skin removed (about 2 ½ pounds skinned) - We used 4 chicken thighs with the skin on.
- 8 mushrooms; about 6 ounces, washed and sliced.
- 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dry white wine We used chardonnay.
- ¼ cup water You can substitute chicken broth.
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh tarragon; optional We used dried tarragon.
- Add olive oil and butter to a large saucepan. Heat until the butter is melted.
- Add the chicken thighs to the pan in one layer and brown over high heat for about 2½ minutes on each side.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and sprinkle on the flour.
- Turn the chicken pieces with tongs so the flour is dispersed evenly.
- Stir in the wine and water and mix well.
- Bring to a boil and add the salt and pepper.
- Cover, reduce the heat, and cook gently for 25 minutes.
- Add the cream, bring to a boil, and boil, uncovered, for about 1 minute.
- Serve sprinkled with the chopped tarragon, if desired.