Thursday, August 25, 2011

Augsburg and Ludwigsburg

We took some weekend trips again recently, this time to Augsburg one weekend and then to Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg the next.
Augsburg is less than an hour away by regional train, and is probably most famous for being the home of the Fugger family. In the late middle ages and Renaissance, Augsburg was one of the wealthiest cities due to trade routes with southern Europe, especially textiles and banking (the Fuggers bankrolled popes and emperors). The wealth of that day can still be seen in the massive Rathaus, and some impressive churches. In addition, Augsburg is home to the oldest social housing complex still in use, the Fuggerei. To this day, inhabitants pay less than one Euro in rent per year, as well as three daily prayers. In modern times, Augsburg might be best known as the birthplace of Bert Brecht, one of the greatest playwrights of modern times.
The next weekend, we visited some friends in Stuttgart and took advantage of the proximity to Ludwigsburg, home of an impressive palace (sometimes called the Swabian Versailles). The palace itself is much too big to take in in just one afternoon, so we restricted ourselves to the ceramics museum (including a room full of Italian maiolica), as well as to the fantastic and expansive castle gardens (formal English style in the front, and "wild" French style in the back).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Chicken with Chanterelles

As fall approaches, mushrooms are appearing more and more at the market and on menus around town. I adapted this recipe from here.

300g fresh chanterelle mushrooms
40-55 g butter
2 chicken breasts (about 350-400g)
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 shallots, finely sliced
150 ml white wine
A good pinch of sweet paprika
90ml chicken stock
3 tbsp double cream or creme fraiche
Salt and pepper
100g egg pasta
A little freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbsp very finely chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
Brush the chanterelles lightly with a soft brush, trim the bases and slice them; then saute them lightly in 15g of butter.
Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then dip in the flour. Heat a medium-sized frying pan over a moderate heat, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and 15g of butter and place the chicken breasts in skin side down. Fry for about 2 1/2 -3 minutes until the skin is brown and crisp, turn the chicken over and lightly brown the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan, place in an ovenproof dish, transfer to the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
Discard the fat, wipe the pan and replace it over a low heat. Add the remaining oil, another 15g of butter and cook the sliced shallots gently for about 5-6 minutes or until soft.
Add the paprika, stir, turn up the heat and pour in the wine. When the sizzling has died down add the chicken stock. Turn the heat down again and leave to simmer for 10 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half (strain the sauce into a bowl through a fine sieve if desired). Return the sauce to the pan, add the mushrooms, cover and simmer for another 5-6 minutes.
Check the chicken. If it’s cooked turn off the oven. If not give it another 5 minutes (boneless chicken breasts will be done sooner than bone-in breasts). Put the pasta on to cook. Take the mushrooms off the heat, stir in the cream or creme fraiche and check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Replace over a very low heat to thicken, stirring occasionally.
When the pasta is cooked drain thoroughly, stir in a small knob of butter and season with a little pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Place the chicken breasts on a chopping board and cut with a sharp knife into five or six thick diagonal slices. Transfer them to warm plates, arrange the pasta alongside and spoon over the mushrooms and cream. Sprinkle with a little finely chopped parsley.