October 01, 2009
Chicken to Impress Women

A couple weeks ago, family from out of town converged upon our Big Red House, and I decided to trot out an oldie but a goodie that I only prepare on special occasions. A good friend from my grade school and college days introduced me to this recipe. He was always experimenting with different recipes, and this one 'stuck'. The original version was entitled simply 'Brandied Chicken Breasts', but my friend knew what it really was: Chicken to Impress Women.

Here's how much this recipe impresses women:

My friend had made it for a bunch of us during our senior year in college, and the dinner party included my then girlfriend, who I ended up dating for another two or three years after graduation. During those post-college years, I made this recipe for her twice -- once for a small dinner party on a very cold New Year's Eve in Ithaca, NY, and once for a romantic dinner for just the two of us in New York City. I went all out: a candle-lit dinner with just the right wine, fresh bakery French bread, etc. (Sadly, it was to be our last formal meal together. Ever.)

I remember each time I've made this recipe; it is that distinctive. Those two times I made it for her, even more so.

Five years or so after our relationship dissolved like the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, I spoke with her for one last time. Surely, I said, there must be something positive you remember from our days together. Of course there was, she replied.

"I'll always remember Chicken to Impress Women."

"Really?" I asked. "I only made it for you twice."

"You made it for me? No, Peter made it that one time back on Charles Street."

So. The one good thing she could think of from our years together was the first time she had tasted Chicken to Impress Women. Made by my roommate. That one time on Charles Street.

Some day I'll find a recipe along the lines of "Fillet Mignon to Save a Relationship". In the meantime, I present my only slightly modified version of...

Chicken to Impress Women

Take four or six chicken breasts and rub them with brandy.

Let them stand for about 10 minutes, basking in all that brandied glory, and then season with salt, pepper, and marjoram.

Put six tablespoons of butter into a big pan, and melt.

Saute the chicken over medium heat, 8 minutes to a side (check to make sure that they are cooked all the way through). Remove chicken to a heated dish and keep warm -- I find the oven is an excellent place to keep the chicken at this stage, and if the chicken is quite cooked all the way through, you can leave the broiler on while you execute the rest of the recipe.

Add a half cup of dry sherry to the butter that remains in the pan. Simmer over low heat until half the liquid evaporates.

Beat 2 cups (that's one pint) of heavy cream with 4 egg yolks, then add this to the pan, stirring constantly. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Keep stirring, and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts. Sprinkle with shredded Swiss cheese and fine buttered crumbs. Broil until the cheese just starts to brown.

Bon appetite!

I recommend fresh French bread and salad for sides. Occasionally, I've served this over white rice (cooked in white wine rather than water).


As a side note, I'll mention that I've made this for other people (not just her), and it has *always* been favorably received. And to the extent that my former paramour only remembered the time my roommate prepared it, and not the two later times that I'd cooked it for her, I'll simply say that as hard as she worked at forgetting everything about me and us, when it comes to Chicken to Impress Women...

You always remember the first time.

Posted by on October 01, 2009 01:53 AM in the following Department(s): Recipes


That sounds delicious! I've e-mailed it to myself so I'll remember to try it in the near future. (I wonder if we have any brandy....)

By the way, how did the world work before we could e-mail things to ourselves?

Posted by: Amy Sisson on October 1, 2009 7:34 AM

I'd forgotten what exactly was in Chicken To Impress Women, although I remember enjoying it. I'd make it for dinner tonight except I suspect that it would not be aptly retitled Chicken to Impress Picky Seven-Year-Olds.

Posted by: Beth Reid on October 1, 2009 11:04 AM

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