Chicken Pontalba

Chicken breast with bearnaise sauce.

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups small diced boiled ham
  • 12 medium-size fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped green onions (green part only)
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups small diced potatoes
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Béarnaise Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a shallow baking pan. Dip the chicken breasts in the butter, coating them evenly on both sides. Arrange in the pan and bake until tender and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, ham, mushrooms, green onions and season with salt, black pepper and cayenne. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are slightly cooked, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, but keep warm.

Add the wine and simmer gently to slightly reduce the liquid in the pan.

Deep-fry the potatoes until golden and crisp in vegetable oil heated to 360°F. Drain on paper towels. Season lightly with salt.

Add the potatoes to the vegetable mixture in the skillet and toss gently to mix.

To serve, put equal amounts of the vegetable mixture in the center of four serving plates. Top each portion with a chicken breast, then spoon béarnaise sauce over each.

Béarnaise Sauce:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • Salt to taste

Melt the butter slowly in a small saucepan. Skim off the foam that rises to the surface.

Heat the shallots, vinegar, pepper and tarragon in another small heavy saucepan and cook until the liquid evaporates. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Add the egg yolks and water to the shallot mixture. Return the saucepan to the stove and stir the yolk mixture vigorously over very low heat.

Do not overheat or the eggs will curdle. Remove the saucepan from the heat and place it on a cold surface. Add the melted butter, a tablespoon at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition. Do not add the butter too quickly and do not add the milky substance at the bottom. Season with salt.

Makes about 4 servings.

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