On Sunday evening, we invited a family over for dinner – we’ve become close with them over the last several years, as my husband has been a mentor to their son (also named Nick) since he coached him in soccer as a freshman in high school. Now, ‘little Nick,’ as I call him – although he’s probably over 6′ feet tall – is half way through his freshman year of college studying architecture at Washington University in St. Louis. The entire family is wonderful – Nick and his younger sister, Annika, are both friendly, considerate, intelligent, polite, bilingual (the benefit of having a German father) – exactly the type of children most parents hope to have (not to say Nick hasn’t had his missteps – but frankly, I’d rather have a child who does test the limits a bit). Their parents, Jane and Klaus-Dieter, are also lovely, and they have hosted us at their home many times. I can attest to what a fabulous cook Jane is.
I decided to make the Gruyere Chicken Dish from – you guessed it – my favorite cookbook, Recipes from the Maine Kitchen. I promise (promise, promise) that my next ‘Weekly Recipe’ will come from one of my other Maine cookbooks – I just truly love this one that much! This recipe was perfect for the occasion because it is easy to cook in a large amount – the original recipe is for 12! And it is delicious. After all, how could something with both gruyere and parmesan cheese go wrong? I also took the cookbook’s recommendation and made parsleyed orzo as a side dish, in addition to a green salad. I’ll share that recipe as well.
This recipe is on page 117. The quantities below are for 12 servings:
6 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts (12 halves)
Flour and butter
8+ tablespoons unsalted butter, divided in half
4 large onions, chopped
2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
(I would back off a little on the wine and chicken stock – it’s a little liquidy for me – I’d recommend 3/4 cup of wine, 1 cup chicken stock)
Flour the chicken breasts and melt butter in a large skillet. Brown the chicken breasts and set aside. In the same skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of butter and saute the onions until golden.
Mix together the Parmesan cheese, Gruyere cheese, paprika, and breadcrumbs.
Butter a large casserole dish, large enough for the chicken to be placed in one layer (you may need two dishes). Preheat the oven to 375. Layer half of the onions into the bottom of the casserole, and place the browned chicken on top. Cover with remaining onions, and sprinkle the cheese mixture on top. Dot with 4 tablespoons of butter. Mix the wine and chicken stock together and drizzle over the dish. Bake uncovered for one hour, and let rest in the oven at 200 degrees for an additional 15-20 minutes.
The parsleyed orzo recipe is on page 79. I’d never made it before, but I have to say, it was excellent. It smelled delicious and browned up beautifully. My mistake was not adding quite enough salt and pepper during the mixing process.
1 lb. orzo
6 garlic cloves, whole (peeled)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, divided by 3/4 and 1/4
1 1/4 cups parsley, chopped, divided by 1 cup and 1/4 cup
4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
Boil orzo with the garlic for 10 minutes and drain in colander. Rinse with cold water. Remove garlic and mash with fork. Whisk garlic with cream, add orzo, chicken stock, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour into a buttered, 2 quart baking dish. Mix breadcrumbs with remaining Parmesan cheese and parsley, sprinkle over orzo and dot with butter. Bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes in the oven at 325 (this baking time may be a bit long – next time, in my oven, I’ll go with about an hour and 15 minutes).
Our dinner party was a success, and everyone gave the Gruyere Chicken Dish rave reviews. My hubby and I are about to enjoy the leftovers, so it’s time to relax!