Modern Art

basquiat-untitled_1981_jpg

Jean-Michel Basquiat

There’s no picture of this dish because all the Picnik or Photoshop in the world couldn’t turn what I photographed into something pretty. Kind of like how I don’t see the “beauty” in modern art.  If you say it’s there, then I’m sure it is.  But I just don’t understand how splatters and lines and chaos on a canvas can be called a masterpiece.  I look at the Basquiat image above and have no reaction other than confusion.

I think this dish could be a food interpretation of modern art.  It involved a lot of splatters and some chaos and somewhere under all the mushrooms and Marsala is hidden beauty.  It has to be.  You just have to look hard.  Oh, that’s right, I didn’t post a photo. So I’ll let you draw your own picture. 

Take chicken, brown it up in a skillet in some butter and olive oil.

Sound good so far?

Let the chicken rest a bit on a plate, it’s tired.  Put some more butter and olive oil in your pan and add lots and lots of fresh mushrooms and shallot.  Cook until browned and tender.

You still with me?

Add chicken broth, half and half, and Marsala to your pan and let it cook down, concentrating all the flavors of the mushrooms and cream and marsala.

What’s your picture look like now?

Add the chicken back to the pan and let it swim in that silky, creamy sauce.

There, it’s a masterpiece.  But in a modern art, abstract sort of way.

If you’ve got any leftovers, they will be even better the next day.

Chicken Breasts with Wild Mushrooms, Marjoram, and Marsala

Bon Appetit – Fast, Easy, Fresh

BAH Notes – I didn’t see the point of taking the mushrooms out of the pan before working on the sauce.  So I left them in.  I think this gave the sauce a more rounded flavor.  I also added the chicken and any accumulated juices back to the pan once the sauce had thickened up.  Bon Appetit says that it should take about 5 minutes for the sauce to thicken and reduce.  Mine took closer to 15 minutes.

  • 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 12 ounces assorted fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1 cup sliced shallots (about 5)
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (I used half and half)
  • 3 tablespoons dry Marsala

Season chicken with salt and pepper and 2 teaspoons marjoram.  Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add chicken to skillet and cook about 7 minutes per side until just cooked through.  Remove chicken to a plate and loosely tent with foil.

Melt remaining butter and oil in the same skillet.  Add mushrooms, shallot, and 2 teaspoons marjoram.  Cook about 6 minutes until the mushrooms are brown and tender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.

Combine broth, cream, Marsala, and remaining marjoram in same skillet.  Boil until thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide mushrooms among 4 plates.  Top with chicken.  Spoon sauce over.

{Printable Recipe}

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6 Responses to Modern Art

  1. Remember the pot roast? Some dishes just aren’t lookers! Thanks for the laugh this morning!

    • Wendi says:

      It’s true, there are some things that even Photoshop can’t make pretty. Fortunately, it tasted better than it looked.

  2. I made a wild rice and chicken soup over the weekend that sure did look like plated cat food. But it was awesome and I’m so blogging about it, cat food look at all! I imagine this looked similar!

    • Wendi says:

      Beth, that’s got to be the best description ever. When a dish is flat out ugly or I fail to capture its inner beauty, I usually try and post a pretty picture of the ingredients. Or I resort to istockphoto to try and find a clever image.

  3. Kathy says:

    It took me a long time to “appreciate” modern “art.” (Ok, you can probably tell by the quotation marks that I still don’t appreciate it.) Basically, I’ll like it if it’s visually pleasing, but I won’t ever pretend I understand it. I don’t get Rothko, and that’s ok. And I have a degree in art. 🙂

    So hard to make pale chicken in light sauce look appealing in a photograph. But it’s the flavor that counts, right?

    • Wendi says:

      Rothko is one of the few modern artists that I enjoy. I think maybe that’s because it’s mostly blocks of color. I don’t “get” it but it doesn’t make my head hurt either. I like your approach that if you like it, it doesn’t really matter why.

      And yes, pale chicken in a light sauce does not always photograph well. But it did taste good.

      The latest thing to make me go hmmmm is when an uncooked dish looks better than the cooked one. Damn you Kitchen Sense steamed fish.

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