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February 25, 2022

Happy Husband Chicken (aka Chicken in Calvados Cream Sauce)

Happy Husband Chicken

Isn’t it funny, how you may have certain go-to recipes that you prepare over and over again?  Following them gives the home cook a certain measure of continued success.  I must admit, that I fall into that category.  My Marengo Chicken recipe is one of those go-to recipes.  Initially, the recipe called for a can of Champignon mushrooms.  That version got rave reviews from my family and friends.  

However, when I used fresh Champignon mushrooms in the preparation of this recipe, my family loved the change.  Honestly, fresh ingredients are always more tasty than canned!

Happy Husband Chicken

Then there was the day when I found fresh Chanterelle mushrooms at the market.  They brought the taste of this recipe to an even higher level!

However, on occasion, I may just be out of one or more of those critical ingredients.  What is a mother to do?  Simple, just substitute something else.  This can be a good thing. But sometimes, the end result is not so great.  That's when I would hear comments like "I wish you would stop experimenting.  Please, Honey, I wish you would lose that recipe and not make it again."

A few weeks ago, that is exactly what happened, I experimented.  After I asked my husband, what he wanted for dinner, he chose his favorite: Marengo Chicken.  Oh no, I discovered all too late, that I was missing some key ingredients to prepare it properly.  I did have chicken breasts, but no onions, no tomatoes, no mushrooms.  To top it off, due to the local Corvid curfew, the store was already closed.

How was I going to get myself out of this jam?  I surveyed my pantry and refrigerator to see, what ingredients I could combine to come up with a tasty chicken dinner.  In addition to a rotisserie barbequed chicken, I found shallots and crème fraiche in the fridge.  I had tarragon flakes in my spice rack and some white wine and Calvados in the pantry.

Sometimes, I surprise myself, this dinner concoction turned out to be quite a success.  My husband really loved it and so did I.  When he asked me the name of the recipe, I told him that I made up this recipe.  “Oh no!  That means I’ll never have that great taste again.  I bet you won’t be able to repeat that.”

For some reason, that time, I did write down what ingredients and their proportions I had used. The following week, I made it again.  Rather than calling it “Chicken in Calvados, Tarragon and cream sauce”, I called it:

Happy Husband Chicken



1 boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 shallot (or ½ yellow or red onion), finely minced

1 T butter

1 T extra virgin olive oil

2 T crème fraiche (sour cream)

2 T white wine (or water, or chicken broth)

½ t tarragon

2 T Calvados (Apple brandy)


In a skillet, sauté the chicken in ½ of the butter and olive oil.  Turn the chicken frequently, until nicely browned on all sides.  Since I started with an already cooked rotisserie chicken, this step was just to heat up the chicken and brown it a bit.

If you use a fresh chicken breast, simmer it for about 7 minutes without turning.  Then turn the beast over and sauté for an additional 7 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F (75C).

Push the chicken to the side of the skillet.  On the empty side, add the minced shallots, and the remaining butter and olive oil and sauté until they are translucent.  

Then, to the sautéed shallots, add the white wine and calvados. After 1 minute when the calvados is heated up, using a long fireplace match or fireplace lighter, ignite the calvados to flambé the sauce.  This burns off the alcohol but imparts a wonderful flavor.  

Happy Husband Chicken

Special Note of Caution about Flambéing:  

For safety in the kitchen, make sure that your cooking area is free of any obstruction and remove any combustible items (like packaging). Before you start preparing this recipe, or any other recipe that calls for flambéing, make sure you measure out all your ingredients.

Remove any clutter and other obstacles that could be dangerous and result in you getting burned, or worse setting your kitchen and home on fire.  Have a lid that fits your pan close by to smother the flame, if necessary.  It is always a good idea to have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, to be on the safe side. 

If you decide, that flambéing is too dangerous, feel free to skip this step.  Instead, just simmer the sauce for several minutes longer, so that the alcohol will evaporate.  The other liquids will also reduce and thicken.  If too much liquid evaporates just add back a little bit more wine, water or broth, one tablespoon at a time.

Next, add tarragon and crème fraiche to the pan sauce, stir well to combine into a creamy sauce, and continue to simmer for a few more minutes. 

Happy Husband Chicken

Make sure you spoon the sauce over the chicken every few minutes to keep it moist and marinated.  This will also impart more flavor to the chicken.

Serve the chicken on a bed of rice with a side of steamed vegetables.


Bon Appetit.


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