Sunday Supper: Classic Baked Chicken With Wild Mushroom Sauce

20120318-085252.jpg Slow Sundays call for a classic dinner like our Baked Chicken with Mushroom Sauce. A simply seasoned classic chicken dish is deliciously savory and perfectly homey. Learn how to get perfectly juicy chicken and in under an hour with a trick we learned from America’s Test Kitchen.

I recently ordered the 2012 America’s Test Kitchen TV Companion Cookbook for my Dad and naturally, I opened it to make sure it was “unharmed”. We ended up reading half of the book in a single afternoon learning about everything from how to get pillow-like gnocchi to baking a juicy and flavorful chicken. This process is extremely easy and fool proof. We started with an organic air-chilled half chicken and made a homemade stock. The air-chilled chicken contains less moisture in the skin making it crispier as it bakes. If you don’t want to make stock, save time by buying pre-made vegetable or chicken stock from your local grocer.

Sugar Tip: You can bake any chicken with this recipe. We recommend an organic air-chilled chicken only because it has less moisture in the skin and isn’t loaded with antibiotics. Naturally, it will taste better and have a crispier skin.

The key to the mushroom sauce is building up the flavor beginning with the brown bits in the chicken pan along with about 1T. of chicken juices and fat. We made the stock from scratch and added the chicken neck (without skin), fresh oregano, fennel fronds and 2 garlic cloves. I chose meatier mushrooms like baby shitakes and black trumpet mushrooms.

What You Need
1/2 organic air-chilled chicken
6 Thyme sprigs
1 Lemon
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Wild mushroom variety (a hand full or more)
1/4 c. dry white wine
1T. Chicken fat and brown bits
2T. Shallots minced
1 1/2T. Butter
1 1/2c. Stock
1/2t. dijon mustard

What To Do

Preheat 450 degrees. Remove your air chilled chicken from the packaging and pat dry with a paper towel. You won’t need to rinse your bird if it is fresh. Season it from the inside out – cavity first then skin with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Drizzle a large oven safe pan with olive oil. Place fresh thyme sprigs in the center of the pan and sliver four thick lemon wheels to place on top of the sprigs. Gently set the bird skin side up in the center of the pan directly over the thyme and lemon wheels.

KEY NOTE: According to America’s Test Kitchen, the key is the cook time and temp.

Place the pan in the center of the oven and allow to bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes then turn off the oven and allow to cook the last 25 minutes in the oven undisturbed. I promise you that you will be beside yourself at the incredible amount of juice in this bird! After 55 minutes, remove the chicken from the pan and allow chicken to rest on a cutting board for an additional 15-20 minutes before cutting to serve. Discard all but 1 T. of the chicken fat and juices in the pan. Keep the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, they are your flavor base for the mushroom sauce.

20120311-143726.jpgFor The Mushroom Sauce

Reserving approximately 1 T. of the chicken fat and juices in the pan, add 1T. of butter and minced shallots to the chicken pan over medium high heat. Scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan to incorporate into the butter. Cook for 2 minutes or so then add the mushrooms. Continue to cook the mushrooms for approximately five minutes stirring occasionally. The add 1/4 c. dry white wine and dollop of mustard. Give that a quick stir and allow to cook down until the sauce has reduced to about a tablespoon of liquid. It will be really concentrated. Then add the stock and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes more then reduce heat to a simmer and add the final 1/2 T. butter.

Spoon the mushroom sauce over the chicken and serve with any vegetable of your choice. We paired this with a Pinot Noir from Burgundy.

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