It’s Friday the 13th today! Scary, spooky! The belief that Friday the 13th is unlucky is one of the most widespread superstitions today. The year 2012 is particularly bad for folks who suffer from this fear since it holds 3 Friday the 13ths – January 13, April 13 and July 13 – and these unlucky days are exactly 13 weeks apart. Yikes! However, the origins of this phobia are pretty murky. It seems that many cultures have regarded Friday as an unlucky day. It is said that the Crucifixion took place on a Friday. And 13 has long been regarded as an unlucky number. Many buildings do not have a 13th floor. Many cities do not have a 13th Street. Many Hospitals do not have a Room 13. Many Airline Terminals omit Gate 13. Legend has it that if 13 people sit down together at dinner, one of them will die within the year. (ie. the Last Supper, Norse legend) As an aside, for those of you looking for a career change, in France there is a custom of the “quotrozieme” a professional guest who can be called on short notice to prevent there being 13 at a dinner party. So it figures that the joining of such an unlucky day with such an unlucky number would be exceptionally bad on the luck front. And as proof of this, there have been some horrible events which have taken place on Friday the 13ths. The Knights Templar were slaughtered by the Church on Friday October 13, 1307. And more recently on January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia cruise ship sunk off the island of Giglio killing at least 25 and injuring many others. And looking to the future, who knows what may happen on Friday April 13, 2029 when the asteroid 99942 Apophis will pass very close to the Earth. (at least it’s not asteroid 66642…folks would absolutely freak!…just saying…)Hmmm…..
So I tried to come up with an appropriately ominous dish for all those folks who are holed up at home for the day. The best I could come up with was Chicken Breasts Diable from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. (Come on!… It has “devil” in the title! That’s scary!) Apparently, according to Ms. Greenspan, whenever you see the word “Diable” on a french menu the dish will include Dijon Mustard, which is as hot as the condiments get in a French kitchen. (o.k., I admit it, mustard isn’t very scary…but work with me here…) This Diable Sauce is, dare I say it, heavenly! The dijon mustard provides a serious kick to those otherwise plain and boring chicken breasts. Apparently this sauce also works well over steak. All in all, a very tasty meal which is quite easy to prepare. Make this dish soon! (though maybe not tonight…it is Friday the 13th after all!)
Chicken Breasts Diable
recipe from: Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table
yield: 4 servings
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded lightly, at room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 Tablespoons Dijon or grainy mustard
- 1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 200°F. Pat the chicken breasts dry.
Put a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and 1 Tablespoon oil. When the butter is melted, slip the chicken pieces into the pan. Adjust the heat so that the butter doesn’t burn, and cook the chicken until it’s well browned on the underside. Turn the pieces over and cook until the other side is also well browned and the chicken is cooked through. If the pan dries out, drizzle in just a touch more oil.
Transfer the breasts to a heatproof plate, season with salt and pepper, cover lightly with a foil tent and keep warm int he oven while you prepare the sauce.
Lower the heat to medium, toss the shallot and garlic into the pan, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, just until they soften, about 2 minutes.
Pour in the wine, and when it starts to bubble, stir it around so that you can pick up whatever little bits might have stuck to the bottom of the skillet.
Let the wine boil for a few seconds, then pour in the heavy cream. As soon as it reaches a boil, stir in the mustard and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Taste and decide if you want more mustard, Worcestershire or pepper.
Remove the chicken from the oven, pour any juices ont he plate into the skillet and stir the sauce again.
Serve the chicken with the sauce.