This is an updated version of a recipe that was a staple of my (1960s) childhood. The original is from an old Louisiana Junior League cookbook called Cotton Country Collection. This was a “company coming for dinner” recipe. You browned the chicken breasts in butter, removed them, added flour to make a roux, and then made a sauce with chicken bouillon (made from cubes) and canned artichoke hearts and mushrooms and braised the chicken breasts in the sauce. What made it fancy was 2 tablespoons of sherry added just before serving. My parents were close friends with three couples who had children our ages, and when the kids got married, one of the families hosted a gathering for friends, family and out of town guests, and this dish was always on the menu. It was one of the first things I learned to cook (although I couldn’t get my mind around bouillon or canned mushrooms, even in the 1970’s, so I began tinkering with the recipe then).
Even with fresh ingredients, this is a very simple recipe, and one that can be made year round. I leave the type of mushroom up to you -- it is fine with simple white or cremini mushrooms; a little earthier with shiitake or oyster mushrooms. I like to serve this with couscous, but polenta or small roasted potatoes work equally well.
chicken breast halves, skin on, boned if you like
salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. (If you can, do this early in the day and refrigerate them, covered loosely. This will help the skin crisp up. But it's totally optional.) When you get home, take the breasts out of the refrigerator. Heat oven to 375° F.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts skin side down. Cook 2–3 minutes until skin is golden brown. If you have boneless chicken breasts, brown all sides. Remove chicken breasts to oven-proof dish, and place in oven. Roast breasts for 15 (for boneless) to 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165° F.
While chicken is roasting, sauté chopped shallots and mushrooms with a pinch of salt in oil and pan drippings (you may need to add a little more oil) until shallots are soft and mushrooms have begun to brown slightly and give off their liquid. Stir in flour and cook over medium-low heat until nutty and brown, stirring frequently, about 3–5 minutes.
Pour in chicken stock, and raise heat, until sauce begins to simmer and starts to reduce somewhat. Reduce heat to low and stir in artichoke hearts, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and rosemary. Stir together and cook over low heat until sauce thickens and is blended together and fragrant. Taste and add salt and black pepper as desired. You can turn the heat off and cover it till the chicken has finished roasting. Just before serving, swirl in a tablespoon of butter if desired.
When the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165° F, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes. Serve each piece on a bed of sauce, making sure that each serving contains artichoke hearts and mushrooms.