In America, French food has a stereotypical reputation of being very rich and heavy with cream and butter. That is far from the truth. Provence and southern France boast some great mediterranean, warm climate cuisine that is light, healthy and full of great flavor.
Many second rate chefs who bastardize French cuisine do rely heavily on the use of cream for sauces. Taking shortcuts when cooking classic recipes can include adding cream when no cream is in the recipe. Many times cream is added in a effort to keep a sauce from breaking or to make a sauce more durable. Gourmands are not impressed by poorly made cream sauces, especially when a sauce is not supposed to have cream in the recipe! Many chefs oversimplify recipes too. Sauce poulette is not a cream of mushroom sauce. It takes 8 recipes just to make mussels poulette and only a tiny amount of cream is used to make the allemande recipe component. A mushroom cream sauce it is not!
I have cooked 3 and 4 star Michelin rated cuisine professionally and I do know the meaning of the word integrity. I bastardize nothing! That is how I quickly rose to a good level of respect in fine dining kitchens. I never pretend that the customer does not know the difference. All of my classic French cuisine is cooked by the book, to the letter. The same goes for the traditional international cuisine recipes that I cook. My own creative cuisine relies on traditional cooking techniques. I surely would not exchange good habits for bad at this point in my career!
This recipe of chicken that is cooked in the style of the port city of Marseilles is well over 150 years old! Like many French recipes, this entree is cooked the same way every time with respect for tradition.
The modern trend of healthy mediterranean cuisine is really nothing new to the people of southern France. Healthy southern French cooking rivals any style of healthy cooking in the world. The trend of modern star rated French healthy cuisine that makes use of lighter reduction sauces and molecular gastronomy has added a new dimension to the definition of healthy cuisine, but the food cannot be compared to the quality of classic French cuisine.
The sauce for Poulet Saute Marseillaise starts off like a sauce, but it is reduced to the point of no longer being a sauce. This is a quickly made saute recipe, so have the ingredients ready before starting to cook. Traditionally, this recipe is made with a Frenched boneless chicken breast filet. (Frenched chicken breast is a boneless breast with the wing drumette attached. Frenched is a cooks term for scraping the wing drumette bone clean, so it is presentable.) I used 5 chicken tenders to make this recipe instead of a Frenched chicken breast, because that is what I had on hand. Chicken tenders turned this recipe into a cafe style lunch item instead of a star rated restaurant dinner menu item. The ability to adapt is taught at formal French cooking schools. I was a chef and sous chef at many French cafes and a small modification like this is okay at a cafe. It is not okay to do at a formal restaurant! At home, it is the flavor that counts. Chicken tenders Marseillaise is a far better recipe than the American fast food style breaded and fried chicken tenders with a buttermilk dressing dipping sauce! One taste of this Marseille style sauteed chicken and you will see why!
Note: For a classic presentation use a Frenched boneless chicken breast! Saute the skin side down until crisp before cooking the other side.
Poulet Saute Marseillaise Recipe:
The chicken tender is the section of meat that is next to the breast bone and is easily separated by hand from the chicken breast filet. I tend to save chicken tenders while butchering chicken and freeze them for later use. Chicken tenders can be bought fresh in packagesat a grocer too.
This is a late 1800's version of Poulet Saute Marseillaise. The tomatoes should not be peeled for this recipe. This recipe could be considered to be a test of how long the tomato quarters can be cooked, without the skin completely falling off.
Cut the thick tendon off of the wide end of five chicken tenders.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. (Never allow olive oil to over heat and smoke, or the flavor will become bitter.)
Saute the chicken tenders, till they become a golden color.
Add 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic.
Cut 1 plum tomato lengthwise in quarters. Scrape off the tomato seeds.
Add the tomato quarters to the pan.
Add an amount of mixed fine chopped green and red bell pepper that is equal to the amount of tomato.
Saute the ingredients for 1 minute.
Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Add 6 ounces of dry white wine.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.
Reduce the sauce, till it is nearly evaporated.
Place the chicken tenders on a plate.
Place the tomato quarters between each of the the chicken tenders.
Spoon the coated peppers and garlic over the chicken.
Sprinkle some chopped fresh parsley over the chicken.
Serve with rice pilaf and a vegetable of your choice.
Garnish with parsley sprigs and lemon slices.
The pilaf in the pictures above was flavored with vegetable stock, Herbes du Provence, sea salt, black pepper and unsalted butter. Steamed buttered sweet snap peas are the vegetable on the plate.
Light, lemony white wine flavored garlic and peppers is fantastic with chicken! The tomatoes have a lot of character with the tasty skins still clinging. The extra effort of fine chopping the peppers allows all the pepper flavor to be released. Poulet Saute Marseillaise is not a saucy entree at all. This is a delicious, healthy French entree! Yum! ... Shawna