I’ll begin with an embarrassing confession: I’d been at the Spectator for eight years before I noticed that there was an actual kitchen in the building. My first night at Go Cooking was an even more astonishing revelation — hidden behind the Spectator’s gloomy auditorium, I discovered a charming, well-appointed room, filled with happy, chattering people drinking shiraz and eating chicken supremes stuffed with Boursin®, prepared with panache by Rick Aiton of Wild Thyme Catering (www.wildthymecatering.ca). There was so much energy and such a delightful ambience in that room that I immediately applied to host a few of the sessions.
The Spectator was looking for hosts because Go Cooking has been growing by leaps and bounds. The series had started out in 2005 with only one or two cooking classes a week. The concept was an immediate and unqualified success, a tribute to Hamilton’s core population of intrepid foodies, its diversity of chefs and restaurants, plus a whole lot of hard work and imagination from the founders. Since then, the kitchen has been upgraded to restaurant quality and the sessions have expanded, with daytime classes for children and teenagers and three or four Chef’s Table, fine dining experiences, per week in the evenings. The project has achieved distinction — this year, Go Cooking received an Award of Excellence from Tourism Hamilton. Acting on our strong belief that delicious food gains finesse when paired with perfect beverages, a series of beer and wine tastings have been instituted this fall in order to hone our tastebuds and introduce our guests to some interesting vintages and brews that they may not have had the time or patience to seek out by themselves.
Go Cooking has become so busy, in fact, that Karen Aquino, the project’s co-ordinator, no longer has time to write this blog, and so, I will be taking over that task. My name is Elaine Hujer and I admit that my qualifications for writing a food blog are meager: I am neither a trained chef nor even a professional cook. I have been at the Spectator for sixteen years and have worked as a freelance writer and editor for the last twenty years, writing mainly about art and design, because that is my educational background. (You may remember my small column in the newspaper’s Go section, called Brush Strokes.) I do bring a lifelong interest in, and enthusiasm for, cooking and eating great food and a fascination with the intriguing marriage of food and wine.
I’m hoping to make the blog more interactive and I’m open to any and all suggestions from you, our audience, on how to improve it. I would love to hear about your favorite recipes, menus, restaurants or cookbooks.
One thing that I have noticed from the cooking sessions is that everyone is so intently scribbling down notes during the demonstrations that there is little time to question the chefs on more “philosophical” issues. I hope that I will be able to provide a bit of context and “behind the scenes” background in this space. And I would like to post a recipe with each blog which I solemnly promise that I will first try out myself.
With that in mind, here’s my adaptation of Rick Aiton’s recipe for chicken supremes that I teased you with in the first paragraph:
Chicken Supremes stuffed with Boursin®
adapted from Rick Aiton, Wild Thyme Catering
4 supremes of chicken:
cut a small pocket in each supreme to be filled with stuffing, as follows
4 large shallots sliced thin
4 oz. port wine
80 grams of Boursin®
2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach or arugula
Caramelize the shallots over high heat. Deglaze with the port wine. Reduce until the wine is almost gone. Let cool before adding to the stuffing.
Squish Boursin®, shallots and vegetables together in your hands until fully combined. Fill the pockets in the supremes with stuffing.
Sear the chicken skin side down until golden. Turn over and put in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove from oven.
4 finely diced shallots
2 large pinches of loosely chopped fresh thyme
8 oz Marsala wine
3 cups of chicken stock
2 tablespoons of salted butter
Put the pan on medium high burner and cook the shallots, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add thyme and Marsala and reduce by three quarters. Add 3 cups of chicken stock and reduce until you have one cup of sauce left. Add two tablespoons of butter and stir until fully melted.
Schlepped all over Hamilton and Burlington to find real chicken supremes. Meat cutter at Denninger’s in Burlington finally offered to cut them for me. They were going to be so expensive that I ended up buying regular chicken breasts and boning them. They were not as elegant as Rick’s supremes but worked out fine. You do need the skin on them so that they brown nicely and don’t dry out.
If you want to cut your own supremes, here is a helpful video.
I used arugula in the stuffing — just because I like it — and it was divine.
Next time I would make the sauce first because it takes a very long time to reduce the liquid.
The leftover Marsala will keep for several weeks and is good poured over strawberries — or you could just drink it.
And I would make this again.
Here is Rick and Rick’s original recipe as it appears in our Go Cooking booklet:
Supreme of Chicken Stuffed with Creamy Boursin Cheese, Spinach and Shallots with a Marsala Reduction
4 large shallots sliced thin
4 oz. port wine
80 gr of Boursin cheese
2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach (you can also use arugula)
4 supremes of chicken
1. Caramelize the shallots over high heat.
2. Deglaze it with port wine.
3. Reduce it to the point where the wine is almost gone.
4. Let cool before adding to the stuffing.
5. Combine all other ingredients and squish together in your hands until fully combined.
6. In a hot oven safe can sear the chicken skin side down until golden. Turnover and put in a 400 oven for 20 minutes or until fully cooked. Check with your meat thermometer as all ovens cook differently.
7. Remove pan from oven, remove chicken from pan. Let the chicken rest while you make the sauce.
8. Put the pan on a median/high stove burner and add 4 finely diced shallots to your pan.
9. Move them around with a wooden spoon scraping bottom of the pan for about one minute.
10. Add 2 large pinches of loosely chopped fresh thyme and 8 oz. of Marsala wine. Reduce by 3/4 then add 3 cups of your best Rick chicken stock and turn heat down to median and reduce until you have about 1 cup of sauce left. Add 2 tablespoons of salted butter and stir until fully melted. Your sauce is now ready.