• Six boneless chicken breasts • 125 g / 1 cup finely ground almonds
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 onions, sliced thin
• 1 large bunch fresh tarragon sprigs, stems and leaves (save a few leaves for decor)
• 500 ml / 2 cups Noilly Pratt • 180 ml / 3/4 cup heavy cream • 60 g / 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese • Salt and pepper
• Pink peppercorns
Balthus the Púca-cat and I have been enjoying a really interesting Cannes experience. Here in the kitchen of the Techniboat we’ve been rocking the waves and putting out some delicious food. The great thing about a Púca is that they are quick thinkers. Balthus has helped me out of several jams already this week, when unexpected events and numbers of diners have tragically mutated in a matter of hours. Planning here is a vague art, at best. The nature of Techniboat is constantly-changing growth, so I have to be nimble on my feet. The yacht is beautifully vintage - the best party boat in Cannes - but ‘vintage’ in a kitchen is not necessarily an asset.
A client earlier this week asked for a special Italian chicken dish for her important party. I wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted, and she didn’t know what she wanted, but I decided the chicken would be cooked in white Martini Vermouth and have tarragon in it. When we went shopping, of course there was no white Martini. I started doing a little panic dance, but Balthus handed me a bottle of Noilly Pratt, a French herbal aperitif similar to Martini. I trusted him. It was delicious! Maybe not exactly Italian, but the client loved it.
Split the thick part of the chicken breast part-way through and open it. Flatten slightly so it has an even thickness. Dip both sides of the meat into the almonds. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan and brown the chicken over medium heat until light golden, 2 -3 minutes on each side. Scatter the onions and tarragon over the meat and pour over the Noilly Pratt. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, covered, until very tender, about 40 minutes. Turn the meat over halfway through.
When the chicken is very tender, remove it from the pan. Pour the cream into the pan and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens slightly. Add the cheese and stir to melt it. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve with rice, or pasta. Balthus likes to throw some pink peppercorns over the top, but I do not know why. He says, ‘because.’