An old friend and co-worker of mine, Diana A., submitted this dish for a SimplySmartDinnerPlans Extreme Meal Plan Makeover asking, “You are supposed to bread the chicken, fry it in oil and then cover with sauce and let it simmer with the veggies…I don’t bread the chicken anymore to cut some of the fat…other ideas to skinny it down?”
First of all, the original recipe was pretty darn good to begin with. The sodium content was frighteningly high, due to the canned soup (870mg per can, yikes!), and there was that slightly metallic aftertaste from the same. My biggest problem with canned cream of mushroom soup (and canned mushrooms in general) is that it just doesn’t taste like mushrooms…and I love mushrooms!
Secondly, (don’t freak out), I added back in the frying step. A little bit of flour and olive oil (and God forbid, some butter) really isn’t the end of the world, and adds enough awesome flavor to make it worth it.
Remember, if it doesn’t taste good…what’s the point?
Even using the f-word (fried), from the health standpoint we were able to shave off 100+ calories per serving, cut almost 1/3 of the fat and nearly 2/3 of the sodium.
Not too shabby!
The biggest winner here, or course, is the flavor…nothing from a can is ever going to compete with fresh, all-natural ingredients. The result of the pan roasted mushrooms really brought the umami* flavor to the front, much more so than the original recipe.
Adding the celery to create a classic mirpoix brought some natural saltiness to the dish, allowing us to cut back on the table salt and, of course, the combined flavor of mirpoix is so much more than the sum of it’s parts! The only thing I would add to the new recipe (and didn’t because it wasn’t a component of the original) would be a little freshly grated asiago, or parmigiano-reggiano, sprinkled over the plated dish.
Some steamed Jasmine rice, and a nice sauteed spinach, or roasted broccoli would be a perfect accompaniment to the meal.
THE ORIGINAL VERSION…
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup white wine
1 t chicken bullion
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 cup sliced carrots
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups chopped onion
2 Tbs flour
2 Tbs olive oil
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THE SIMPLYSMARTDINNERPLANS EXTREME MAKE-OVER…
Champignon Poulet Diana
2 cups fresh mushrooms, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to your taste)
8 oz 2% milk
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 anchovies fillet, diced (trust me)
1/2 t nutmeg
1 clove of garlic, diced
Salt & pepper to taste
3 Tbs flour
1.5 Tbs olive oil
1.5 Tbs butter
1 tsp “Better than Bullion” chx base
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast/tenders
Mirpoix (2 cups diced onion, 1 cup diced celery, 1 cup diced carrots)
Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then dredge in 2 Tbs flour until completely coated. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven or deep skillet and fry breasts and sliced mushrooms (sprinkle mushrooms with a 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp of white pepper, 1 tsp onion powder, and nutmeg) until lightly browned, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove chicken and mushrooms from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Mirpoix: Add remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and saute the onions for 2 minutes. Stir in the celery and carrots and cook for about one more minute. Season with garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the remaining 1 Tbs of flour, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often, until flour has just begun to brown and has a nutty aroma.
Deglaze the pan with white wine, stirring until nothing is stuck to the bottom, then slowly pour in the milk, chicken base, and diced anchovies, stirring to blend smoothly. Simmer rapidly for 20 minutes, stirring often.
Return the chicken breasts to the pan and reduce to a low simmer for an additional 10 minutes. The mixture should reduce considerably by this time so check frequently to see that the chicken is covered. Spoon basting frequently.
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The Chinese characters 旨味 are used for a more general meaning to describe a food as delicious. Umami is most notably found in fish, shellfish, cured meats, vegetables (e.g., mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, spinach, celery, etc.) or green tea, and fermented and aged products like cheeses, shrimp pastes, soy sauce, etc.
Humans’ first encounter with umami is often breast milk. It contains roughly the same amount of umami as broths.