Friday, October 10, 2008

Falling for Fall

I love fall. I love the cooler weather, the changing leaves, wearing sweaters and making fires in the woodstove. I especially love the changes in cooking and wine drinking. While our summers are filled with salads and Sauvignon Blancs or grilled anything with a luscious Rose', as the weather turns cold, both the food and wine get warmer. I look forward to making stews, braises and anything topped with a pastry crust at this time of year. My tastes in wine, red or white, turn to the more full-bodied varieties.

Here's a dish I love making at this time of year:

Tarragon Chicken & Biscuits

1 lb. boneless chicken (breasts or thighs or a combination)
1 c. sliced mushrooms
2 Tbs. chopped, fresh tarragon
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1/2 c. white wine
3/4 c. chicken stock
1 c. heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste
Biscuit Dough (recipe follows)

Make the biscuit dough first. To make the recipe easier, you can use store-bought, refrigerated biscuit dough, or make the dough from a mix.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the chicken into 1" chunks. Salt & pepper it. Heat oil in a large skillet and add chicken. Saute chicken until almost cooked through - approximately 8 minutes, adding the mushrooms after 4 minutes. Pour off any liquid and add the white wine; cook until wine is reduced by about half, then add the chicken stock and the heavy cream. Cook until the cream thickens, adding more if the mixture is drier than chunky soup. Add the tarragon and mix to combine. Taste for salt & pepper.

Pour the mixture into a 9" x 9" baking dish and top with blobs of the biscuit dough. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, until the biscuits are golden on top and the filling is bubbly.


2 c. all-purpose flour (I highly recommend King Arthur Flour)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 stick butter (cold)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. buttermilk

Mix all the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into small pieces then blend into the the flour with a pastry cutter or your fingers. You can leave some larger chunks of butter. Mix in the buttermilk. You'll have a sticky, lumpy dough.

OK - a couple of disclaimers. I'm not a cookbook author, and I don't even often write down my recipes. So, consider everything I've writen as approximate and use your cook's intuition. The chicken mixture needs to be quite wet, souplike, in fact or it will dry out in the oven. So add more liquid as needed. Oven temperatures vary, as well as cooking times at different altitudes, so keep an eye on it.

So, what to drink? My recommendation is an Oregon Pinot Gris. I like the King Estate's Signature Collection Pinot Gris. Two others to try are Ponzi and Benton Lane.

I hope you'll try my recipe. Let me know how it turns out. More cool weather recipes to come!

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