This past summer in Greece, we had dinner at a modern and gourmet restaurant, known for its nouvelle cuisine. The selection included real gastronomic delights, but there was also a whole page on the menu devoted to dishes and desserts popular when the Athenian upper class of the 60’s was entertaining, otherwise known as “Athenian Recipes”*. These were mostly European classics prepared with rich ingredients, fine herbs, savory sauces, etc., all introduced in Greece during that period of time. Nowadays, most of these dishes tend to be forgotten and it was a real surprise to see that a contemporary chef was still honoring them and including them in his menu.
Amongst others, we ordered a main course from this “Athenian Recipes” section, the Poulet à l’Américaine, which translates to “Chicken The American Way”, a dish that I had never heard of neither in Europe and certainly not in the USA, but that was absolutely delicious.
Back home, I did a little research and found only one recipe (French) that seemed to be very similar to what we had ordered in that restaurant in Greece. (You can see it here). I read all the reviews, and decided to follow the recipe to the letter, even if that meant including a couple (or more) teaspoons of butter.
As we are all in a constant search for new ways to cook chicken, I would strongly recommend this recipe, and don’t worry about the mushroom/bacon addition if you’re ever in a hurry. The chicken itself is so delicious, flavory and moist with a crunchy skin so different from what you’ve ever had, that it can be served on its own. However, the mushroom/bacon garnish is what makes the difference as it deglazes the baking dish and creates a flavory topping. The best way to serve Chicken à l’Américaine is right out of the oven with warm creamy mashed potatoes.
- 1 large chicken
- 1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs (plain)
- 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 6 slices minced bacon
- 4 cups sliced white mushrooms
- 4 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
- Salt and pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 375º F (190º C).
- Butterfly the chicken (ask your butcher to remove the backbone or follow my easy instructions, here)
- Place the butterflied chicken on a baking dish with the cut side of the meat lying flat and the breasts side facing up.
- Rub the butter and the mustard all over the skin.
- Sprinkle the paprika and the bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, in a non-stick pan, cook the bacon, add the mushrooms and cook until tender. Remove the pan from the stove and incorporate the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the bacon/mushroom mixture around the chicken and continue roasting in the oven for about 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer reaches 180º F (82º C). Serve the chicken with the mushroom garnish and mashed potatoes or rice.
* Some more Athenian Recipes that I’ve cooked, tasted, or just heard about: Russian Salad, Filet Mignon Sauce Madère, Fish with Mayonnaise, Ice Cream Chicago, Pêches Melba, Île Flottante.