20th Anniversary Supper: chicken

I have been trying to recapture some verve for cooking.  The kitchen hasn’t been very interesting lately.

But yesterday, with the help of a couple donations which came in for my 20th anniversary of ordination, I picked up some groceries and set to work, also using something I have had for a while and needed to use.  This was, in a sense, a collective project with readers here who have sent things from my wishlist or have given donations.  And I do remember, as I use things, that people sent them.

Some ingredients.


“But Father! But Father!”, some of you are assuredly saying.  What’s in the little jar?”

You’ll see.

Mastering the Art of French CookingI decided to work from the basis of a recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1 (sent by a reader).

I worked with Suprêmes de volaille à brun, Chicken breasts sautéed in butter… with a variation.

The first step was to clarify the butter.  To clarify butter you melt it and as the solids and fats foam up, you remove them. You can cook at a higher temperature with clarified butter because it doesn’t have the stuff in it that burns.


Once it was well-foamed and as it was just starting to darken, I put it though a sieve of fine wire mesh covered with cheesecloth I moistened with water.


TIP: If you moisten the cloth with water first, it won’t absorb the butter.

I started to sautée a variety mushrooms. Don’t put too many in at once or they steam each other, rather than browning.


Chicken breasts dredged in flour, with some salt and pepper.

Into the clarified butter they go.  Watch your temperature.  Clarified butter heats to a higher temp than regular, but it will burn of you are not careful.


I gave them about 5 minutes per side, until they were springy to the touch.

Once removed to a platter, I added chopped parsley and tarragon and deglazed with about a 1/4 cup of Madeira and a squeeze of lemon.


Then came a couple small spoons full of stuff from the jar.


Black truffle paste.

I brought a passle of these small jars from Italy and they have been living patiently in my fridge for they apotheosis.



I added the mushrooms, which had cooperated by carmelizing.

Plated up with steamed Brussels sprouts, I wound up enjoying….

Butter sautéed chicken breasts and mushrooms with black truffle and tarragon infused Beurre noisette and Madeira reduction.


I also had some crusty bread with chopped garlic in it, warmed in the oven, for the sake of cleaning up that butter.   I didn’t make the bread.  I am a hopelessly lousy baker.

A 2007 Château Greysac Médoc, which I found on sale, pulled this all together.

Then I extracted from out the humidor one of my last 2000 Upmanns which were a gift from my mother back when.


Thus, dessert was a couple ounces of Lagavulin 16 and the Upmann.


Just a glimpse of Penjing’s trunk in the background.

Once in a while it is nice to aim a little higher than grilled cheese and tomato soup, which I will probably have today, it being Friday as I write.

So, that was supper on 26 May 2011, my 20th anniversary of ordination.

Thank you for your kind attention and collaboration.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. RichR says:

    As a single-malt Scotch fan, I am glad to see that my favorite blogger drinks my favorite type of adult beverage. I’ve tried multiple scotches, including Lagavulin 16, and my favorite is Macallan 12 (their Cask Strength is good, too). If you want to try something different than your usual, you can’t go wrong with Macallan.

    Most importantly, congratulations on 20 years. Your blog has ministered to me on a weekly basis. Outside of the sacraments, this blog has been an extraordinary means of grace for me. Thank you.

  2. Grabski says:

    Father Great article, and ad multos anos!

    Let me recommend a nice ‘around the house’ Scotch, with a nice peat component, Teachers from the makers of Ardmores!


  3. Grabski says:

    I am a hopelessly lousy baker.
    Father, let me also recommend getting a bread machine, a cloche, and a cookbook for bread machines. Even in a bread machine, warm bread is great. But doing dough, and putting it in a cloche (a clay baking dish, as it were) makes a great bread

    I know; bread machine. I’m too lazy to knead. But it makes great, great bread

  4. priests wife says:

    Grabski- I’m going to take your advice to Fr Z for myself- I’m sick of buying plastic wrapped bread.

    Re. clarifying butter- does one do something with the unclarified portion of the butter or is it throw out??

  5. chironomo says:

    The Upmann 2000 is a great stick… I received a box of American Upmann H2000’s back in Christmas of 2008 and, like the cigar fiend that I am at times, was through the whole box before Memorial day!

    A good accompaniment Scotch too!

  6. Luke says:

    I must say that I thoroughly enjoy these types of posts, Father. Happy anniversary to you again, and please feel free to fly out to Texas and cook for us any time.

  7. AAJD says:

    Oooh, Lagavulin! That is a splendid Scotch. A red-letter feast-day indeed!

  8. lucy says:

    Fr. – beautiful post – I’ve missed your cooking segments. I hope that you’re back in the mood as spring/summer fare appears and inspires you. Oh, and I’m nearly convinced to give brussel sprouts another try (icky from childhood).

    Grabski – I must disagree. I started married life with a bread machine – going so far as to return some duplicate crystal pieces to get it. After a year or so, I tired of the crappy crust. So, now I recommend a KitchenAid or similar high powered mixer. Let the mixer do the work of kneading (I, too, hate to knead bread dough) and then remove, allow to rise, punch down, shape, allow to rise, and there you go. Lovely good bread, minimal work. Spray a bit of water into your hot oven, and you can somewhat duplicate a great crust of some well known cities. I also sometimes make the dough and allow it to develop flavor in the fridge for a few days – delicious!!

    A KitchenAid serves so many other purposes whereas the bread machine does not.

    Happy Anniversary and many more !

  9. Marius2k4 says:

    Felix anniversarium! Ad multos annos!

    Deo gratias pro sacerdotibus ideoneis potissimumque optimis qui gregem Domini saepe impastum in absentia doctrinae clarae praedicatae a pastoribus datis atque etiam celsioribus erudiant sicut tu ipse nos educas ex unguibus haereseos et harmonicus traditione et fidelis Ecclesiae.

    Quidem milies super milies dico aperte: ad Multos Annos, et Felix Anniversarium tibi! (Et, Deo placeat, mitra quam citissime quoque!)

  10. David Homoney says:


    I highly recommend the Chicken in a creme sauce with onion and paprika out of the mentioned tome of tasty treats. It never ceases to impress and bring about smiles.

  11. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Thank you for the cooking lessons!

    Much better than my Stouffer’s stuff and Old Crow. Though Old Crow is the original sourmash.

  12. jcn0903 says:

    Bonum et iucundum est! As far as bread goes, Father, let me recommend my bread by Jim Lahey. My wife, who is not a baker, has been using it for the last month or so and I, who am (a baker. Decidedly not a reference to the tetragrammaton.) am most impressed.

  13. Stephen Matthew says:

    Fr. Z.,

    Happy Anniversary! May the next two decades be even more filled with grace than the last two.

    To brighten this day a bit, I thought I would share some good news:

    Today, as we recall St. Augustine of Canterbury, four new priests were ordained for the Province of St. Joseph of the Order of Preachers at St. Dominic’s Church in Washington D.C. by Archbishop Broglio. The archbishop gave a fine homily which included a section on the dictatorship of relativism, and even had an orthodox Rahner quote for good measure among other things. The musicc was great with a fine organ, schola of Dominican brothers singing, with much of the music being Latin chant from the Graduale, the Gospel was chanted by the deacon, the Roman Canon was used for the Consecration.

    It was one of the finest masses I have ever attended, it was not difficult to lift up prayers in unity with those of the mass itself, the only difficulty (for me) was the (fallen) human inclination to view it as an “event” for the ordinandi and their family rather than The Holy Sacrifice.

    I suspect the province’s blog the “Dominican Daily” will have updates on this (probably not until next week at least, as there is much editing of photos and video to be done).

  14. EWTN Rocks says:

    Wow, Fr. Z, that looks good – quite befitting an Anniversary dinner. Congratulations!

    Similar to what Lucy posted above, I’ve missed your cooking segments. A couple of months ago I made Beef Bourguignon based on a recipe you posted last year. Needless to say, it was a hit!

  15. Julee says:

    That looks positively delicious…..Congratulations on 20 years in the priesthood!!

  16. RichardT says:

    Congratulations on your anniversary, and good to see you enjoying the kitchen again.

    Thank you for the tip about moistening the cheesecloth. I had always assumed that my problem with clarifying butter was that I was not patient enough, but that might do the trick.

  17. Montenegro says:

    Delicious meal. Fr. Z: you clearly have excellent taste. Congrats on your anniversary. Thank you for your years of service.

  18. Mark Pavlak says:

    Congrats, Fr. Z! Best wishes for many more years. Ad multos annos!

  19. Ellen says:

    Father, I have been making no-knead bread for some time now and it is so easy that anyone can do it. You mix a very wet dough and then bake it in a preheated pot. I use a plain old cast iron dutch oven.
    There are recipes all over the internet. Most of them say to let the dough rise for about 18 hours, but if you let the batch of dough sit for several days in the fridge and then bake it, it takes on a really nice sourdough flavor.

  20. MJ says:

    Looks absolutely delicious! :) I grew up on home-baked-in-a-bread-maker bread – delicious stuff!

  21. DebbieInCT says:

    What a great meal for your celebration! Congratulations!!

  22. ipadre says:

    Happy Anniversary Fr. Z!

    Ad multos anos!

  23. Clinton says:

    Give you joy of your anniversary, Father.

  24. Father,

    A SPLENDID supper, with appropriate enjoyments!

    May Our Lord grant you many more decades of service.

  25. New Sister says:

    Blessed anniversary of your ordination, Father. Thank you for being a priest!

    [where & how did dessert fit in? and the MM coffee?]

  26. Not having much of a sweet tooth, I didn’t make a dessert (“pudding”).

  27. irishgirl says:

    Food looked good, Father Z! Missed your cooking ‘segments’.
    I hope you weren’t sick….
    I also hope you’re not too heavy with the cigars. Wouldn’t want you to get oral cancer.

  28. Excellent—first class from beginning to end!

    Ad multos annos!

  29. Andy Milam says:

    I just made this following your variations and I must say that it went over like a dream!!!! I made it for 5. Rather than brussel sprouts, I substituted asparagus…one of the diners didn’t like brussel sprouts.

    Otherwise, it was goodness..

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