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Chicken Wellington tastes as great as it looks


December 21, 2005 - Wellingtons are fancy, but it's hard to convince yourself they're worth the extra time and effort in the kitchen until the first morsel hits your mouth.

Still, if you get started enough in advance, you can prepare most everything ahead for a dinner party and still not miss any quality time with your guests.

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Chicken Wellington in Maderia Sauce
This version is with chicken breasts, but I make beef, veal and pork wellingtons as well.

Andres Soultner would cook Wel-lingtons with a foie gras, or liver pate topping the meat. I don't because I don't like liver under any circumstances.

I'll leave liver pate for the people who want a pat on the back for eating healthy foods.

This is sort of the Miriam Makeeba version: pate-pate (as opposed to her famous song Pata-Pata. It's a joke.)

I mix a fruit pate with the pork and a ricotta-spinach or mushroom pate with the veal and beef. Despite the unusual aspects of this Wellington, I like it best.

Chicken Wellington

4 skinless, boneless

chicken breast halves

8 ounces trimmed

fresh spinach

2 tablespoons butter

4 chopped green onions

3 garlic cloves, chopped

6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms,

stemmed, sliced

6 ounces button mushrooms, sliced

¾ cup Madeira

12/3 cups Madeira Sauce

1 teaspoon fresh tarragon

2 sheets packaged puff pastry

1 egg beaten to blend

Preheat broiler.

Arrange chicken breast halves on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.

Broil until almost cooked through, about four minutes per side. Chill until cool, about 30 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 375°F.

Saute spinach over medium heat until just wilted, about three minutes. Transfer to bowl.

Melt butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add green onions and garlic and saute until tender, about three minutes. Add mushrooms and saute until beginning to soften, about two minutes. Add wine and tarragon; simmer until almost all liquid evaporates, about seven minutes. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cool.

Oil heavy, large baking sheet. Roll out puff pastry sheets to 12-inch squares. Cut each square in half to create four 12x6-inch rectangles. Place chicken breast at end of each rectangle and spinach on top of chicken. Fold long side of pastry atop chicken. Roll up jelly-roll style, pinching edges of pastry to seal. Brush edges with egg glaze to seal. Place pastries, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet. Brush with glaze.

Bake pastries until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to plates. Serve with hot Madeira Sauce and your choice of side dishes.

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