Monday, 30 April 2012

Quick chicken supreme

My abiding memory of chicken supreme as a child is of the tinned variety - an unappealing glop of unidentifiable bits of poultry slathered in a white sauce akin to a well-known brand of chicken soup. Bland, unattractive and definitely unappetising.

The full-on version, while not necessarily complicated, is time-consuming to make - at the very least it involves making a white sauce from a roux and some versions have you simmering carrots in white wine for an hour to create a stock and then poach the chicken in it.

I'm not convinced it needs to be so difficult, especially when it's a great way to use up leftover chicken. This is ready within 15 minutes, perfect for a quick Sunday supper to eat off your lap in front of the TV. 

What you need: 
1 leftover chicken breast
1 small onion, chopped
2 generously heaped dessertspoons half-fat crème fraiche
Small handful fresh parsley
Butter
Seasoning

What to do:
Using a heavy sauteuse, sauté the onion in a little butter over a low to medium heat until it turns translucent and just starts to colour. While it's cooking, skin the chicken breast and cut into bite-sized chunks. Chop the parsley very finely. When the onions are ready, add the chicken and stir through the crème fraiche. Make sure everything is well mixed then add the parsley, season to taste and stir through again. Let it cook for 5 minutes or so until the chicken is fully reheated then plate up!

Cook's tips: 
I find it really helps to take the chicken out of the fridge half an hour beforehand, so it has time to come to room temperature, because it will reheat a lot faster.

For some bizarre reason, chicken supreme is traditionally served on a bed of white rice. To my mind this simply adds to its reputation for blandness. And I associate white food with convalescence, precisely because it's usually bland and thus unlikely to upset the tummy. Here, I simply sautéed some leftover potato from the evening before's roast for the carbs, and steamed some green beans to go on the side. You could team the supreme with fried wedges of polenta or some sweet potato mash.

Seasoning is critical for chicken supreme. Starting with a decent chicken helps (my butcher sold me a a very tasty small corn-fed bird at the weekend). But packing flavour into the sauce is what makes it. Plenty of black pepper, plus salt to taste and then whatever grabs you - substitute tarragon or dill for the parsley, sauté some garlic in with the onion, finish it with a tiny squeeze of fresh lemon juice...