Friday, July 01, 2011

Creamed Food

In Henry Merrihew Plummer's classic The Boy, Me and the Cat, a very wryly written account of his 1912 cruise from Massachusetts to Florida and back in a large (by today's standards) catboat, he is forever writing about his cooking, as well as everything else under the sun. He and his son lived largely off the land on their trip by shooting  waterfowl with a .22 long rifle. They ate a lot of creamed this and that.

It's a great book, and I have a couple of copies of it somehow. Early on in the trip, Henry pitches in at a boatyard they had stopped at, lending a hand horsing some bit of heavy gear around, when a cable let go, and swung around, giving him a minor injury to his leg. Plummer writes that he "vowed never to help anyone ever again" as a result.

More great writing from Plummer follows, and great adventures as well. And more creamed food recipes. So here's one of mine.

Tarragon Chicken

This is a simplified version of the way complicated classic French recipe.

2 chicken breasts
fresh tarragon
pint of heavy cream
1-2 cups half and half
olive oil
dry vermouth
1 shallot
salt and pepper

Mince the shallot.

Season the chicken breasts and saute in a little olive oil until half done. Wrap in foil and reserve.

Put the minced shallot in the saute pan. Saute for a minute or two. Don't burn it, sweat it.

Deglaze the pan with 1/3 cup or vermouth. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce.

Chop up some of the tarragon leaves. Leave some unchopped.

Add the cream. Add the half and half. Add the chopped tarragon. Season with salt and pepper.

Reduce by half or so, until it is a proper cream sauce, coats a spoon.

Put the chicken breasts in the sauce and let them heat back up, and finish cooking. Baste them, maybe for 3 minutes. Make sure they are done.

Serve with peas.

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