Roast Chicken With Port Wine, Cream and Mushrooms

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZThe roasted chicken rests before being carved at the Jan. 19 get-together of Les Femmes Fabuleux, a Julia Child cooking club in Kenner.
Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZThe roasted chicken rests before being carved at the Jan. 19 get-together of Les Femmes Fabuleux, a Julia Child cooking club in Kenner.

Jennifer Creger

Roast Chicken With Port Wine,
Cream and Mushrooms

Serves 8. Adapted by Jennifer Creger from a recipe in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Alfred A. Knopf).

2 (3.75-lb.) roasting chickens

2¼ tsps. salt, divided

9 tbls. butter, divided

6 carrots, sliced

1 whole onion, sliced

2 tbls. vegetable cooking oil

1 lb. baby bello mushrooms, trimmed, washed and quartered if large

1 lb. white mushrooms, trimmed, washed and quartered if large

1/2 cup water

11/2 tsps. lemon juice, divided

2 cups whipping cream, divided

1 tbl. cornstarch, blended with 2 tbls. of the cream

Black pepper

1 tbl. minced shallots

2⁄3 cup dry port

3/4 cup cognac

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle the inside of the chickens with 1/2 teaspoon salt and smear with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Truss the chickens, making sure the legs, wings and neck skin will remain in place during cooking. Dry chicken and rub skin with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Place breast-up in a shallow roasting pan just large enough to hold the chickens.

2. Place carrot and onion slices are chickens and place on middle rack in oven. Brown lightly for 15 minutes, turning on one side after 5 minutes and the other side for the last 5 minutes. Combine cooking oil with 2 tablespoons melted butter and baste chickens with the mixture after each turn. Reduce oven to 350 degrees.

3. Leave chickens on their side and baste every 8 to 10 minutes, using the fat in the pan when the butter-oil mixture is gone. After about 40-45 minutes, salt the chickens with 1/2 teaspoon salt and turn on the other side. Continue basting.

4. After about 15 to 20 minutes, salt again with remaining salt and turn chickens breast-up. Continue basting.

5. Meanwhile, bring water to boil in a large enameled or stainless steel saucepan with 1 tablespoon butter, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add mushrooms, cover and boil slowly for 8 minutes. Strain, reserving cooking liquid.

6. Add whipping cream and cornstarch-cream mixture to the mushrooms. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper if needed. Set aside.

7. When chicken is done, place on a carving board and let it rest at room temperature.

8. Remove all but about 1⁄8 cup of fat from the roasting pan. Stir in the shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add port and reserved mushroom liquid and boil down rapidly, scraping the pan, until liquid has reduced to about 1/2 cup. Add the mushrooms and cream and simmer for about 2 minutes, or until liquid thickens slightly. Add additional salt and pepper, if needed, and add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice.

9. Coat inside of a fireproof casserole dish with 2 tablespoons butter. Carve chicken into serving pieces, sprinkle with remaining salt and place chicken in casserole.

10. Set casserole over moderate heat until chicken begins to sizzle. Pour cognac over it, turn your face and ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake casserole slowly until flames subside and then pour in mushroom mixture, basting the chicken. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Don’t let the sauce boil. Serve.