For such a simple recipe with only three ingredients (chicken, Speculoos cookies, and crème fraiche), that was supposed to knock my socks off, I would have been happier eating the box of cookies for dinner. However, in respect for Dorie, I blame my disappointment on several factors:
I stopped by Albertsons first, thinking they would have Speculoos - thin, buttery cinnamon and spice cookies, aka LU Cinnamon Sugar Spice Biscuits or LU Bastogne. Nothing even close. I read you could substitute Gingersnaps, but that slot on the shelf was empty. Strike one.
I then went down the aisle to the back of the store, to the dairy section, in search of crème fraiche. Strike two. If you must, Dorie advises, you can substitute heavy cream, but not sour cream. Sour cream will curdle and break over heat (keep reading). I didn't want to make substitutions for two out of the three ingredients, so I decided to try another store.
I knew I had seen crème fraiche at Boney's, but doubted they carried Speculoos. I abandoned Albertsons, got back in the car, and drove two blocks to Boney's. Correct in my assumptions, I was successful in finding crème fraiche, but no Speculoos. Making the decision to settle on Gingersnaps, I then debated over two brands for at least 10 minutes. Neither one contained cinnamon, but I figured I could add a teaspoon or so to the recipe. I wandered over to the meat section, grabbed the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and then to the bakery section, where I found a more appealing package of Gingersnaps. I tossed the organic Gingersnaps back on the shelf, grabbed a few things for a salad, and made my way to the checkout, 30 minutes later.
Once I got home, John had the stove and refrigerator pulled out from the wall and was painting in all the areas I needed to be preparing and cooking (you don't even want to know what colors we are trying to cover up in our new house). And, of course, Dooley was also sprawled out in the middle of the kitchen floor, taking his eighth power nap of the day.
I proceeded to read through the recipe, which calls for slicing the chicken breasts crosswise into one-inch strips before sautéing them in butter or oil. I felt keeping the chicken breasts whole would make for a prettier photo, so I ignored that step (when you're a food blogger, you must consider how you are going to plate the finished dish for the camera - I also note that a photo of this dish was no where to be found on the net). Once the chicken is cooked, you add a cup of crème fraiche and folded-in, crunched up Speculoos to the pan. Apparently, the cookies melt into the sauce, like they do in your mouth, and flavor it with cinnamon and spice.
In my case, I transferred the chicken breasts to a plate, and added the crème fraiche with folded-in Gingersnaps, and teaspoon of ground cinnamon, to the pan. The crème fraiche, which was not supposed to break, broke. Strike three.
I was able to make a recovery, of sorts, with some sour cream (I was out of crème fraiche at that point and had no heavy cream) and chicken broth. My pan was probably too hot when I originally added the crème fraiche, but I blame that on the electric stove we also inherited with this house and its turquoise and yellow kitchen (those colors are now on their way out, and I'll be talking to Santa in a few months about a gas stove).
Anyhoo, in an effort to end this very long and sad story, I did not feel this Cinnamon-Crunch Chicken was a "stroke of brilliance" - as Dorie describes her friend's creation. John said it liked it, and compared it to a Thai peanut sauce, but it was a bit sweet for my liking. I did enjoy the salad of baby greens, apples, red onion, cashews and sherry vinaigrette...and I truly enjoyed the leftover Gingersnaps with my coffee the next few mornings. Sometimes, things are not as simple as they may seem.
On a much sweeter note, as we roll into fall, I encourage you to try Bobby Flay's Throwdown Pumpkin Pie, with Cinnamon-Crunch topping, a much better use than on chicken.
French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s book Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. The book is filled with stunning photography, and personal stories about each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing. I highly recommend adding it to your cookbook collection if you haven't already!