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Birmingham’s Best Eats: Happy birthday, Julia Child!


By Celeste Ward

Before Giada, Ina, Paula or Emeril came along, one original stood out: Julia Child.

Birmingham's Best EatsHer wit, her charm and that unmistakable voice: She was truly a force in the kitchen. In celebration of her 98th birthday today, we present one of Child’s most beloved recipes, Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Cream. Caution: You might find yourself unabashedly licking the sauce off your plate!

She taught me to never give up, no matter how difficult the recipe — or life in general — seems. While watching her TV show, “The French Chef” [aff. link], you can’t help but smile. Those early episodes aired unedited, so viewers witnessed a down-to-earth, endearing chef, mistakes and all! So many watching fell in love with her charming demeanor.

Video: Julia Child shows how to make an omelette
on an episode of “The French Chef.”

Child discovered herself and her love for cooking in Paris. The food, people, culture and joie de vivre completely enamored me on my first visit and continues to influence my cooking.

In her memoir, “My Life in France” [aff. link], she quoted one of her teachers, chef Max Bugnard. It reminds me of why I love to cook.

“You never forget a beautiful thing that you have made … Even after you eat it, it stays with you, always.”

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Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Cream

Let’s celebrate Julia Child’s birthday with one of her
most incredible dishes, Chicken with Mushrooms and Cream.
Photo by Celeste Ward

Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Cream
(Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons)

(from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I” [aff. link],
by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck)

  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes
  • Servings: 4


  • 4 supremes (boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Big pinch white pepper
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/4 lb. diced or sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup white or brown stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1/4 cup port, Madeira or dry white vermouth
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rub chicken breasts with drops of lemon juice (save some for the sauce), and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Heat butter in a heavy, 10-inch oven-proof casserole, until foaming. Stir in minced shallots, and sauté a moment without browning. Stir in the mushrooms, and sauté lightly for a minute or two without browning. Sprinkle with salt.

Quickly roll chicken breasts in butter mixture, and lay a sheet of buttered wax paper over them, then cover casserole and place in hot oven. After 6 minutes, touch top of chicken. If still soft, return to oven for a moment. The meat is done when springy to the touch.

(Note: Although Child suggests to check the chicken after only 6 minutes, I cooked it for 30 to 40 minutes to ensure safety. Use a meat thermometer to check for correct temperature before serving.)

Remove the chicken to a warm platter (leave mushrooms in the pot), and cover while making the sauce (2 to 3 minutes).

Sauce: Pour the stock and wine in the casserole with the cooking butter and mushrooms. Boil down quickly over high heat until liquid is syrupy. Stir in the cream, and boil down again over high heat until cream has thickened slightly. Off heat, taste for seasoning, and add drops of lemon juice to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

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Celeste WardCeleste Ward is a Birmingham blogger passionate about food and photography. Her food blog Sugar and Spice by Celeste, founded in 2007, has been featured on the Cooking Channel website and AL.com.

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Hungry for more? Check out the menu of Birmingham’s Best Eats!

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