love a recipe with a past and this simple and satisfying Chicken dish is a
prime example.And it may be the only
time when you can say you’re serving Chicken fit for an Emperor, in this case
Napoleon.There’s a myth attached to the
dish:It was first made in 1800 after
Napoleon defeated the Austrian Army at the Battle of Marengo which was fought
south of Turin, Italy.The story goes
that Napoleon’s Chef, a man named Dunand, foraged in the town for ingredients
because his supply wagons were too far off.Dunand was said to have created the dish with whatever he could find.
Legend has it that Napoleon liked it so much that he had it served after every
battle.Napoleon was also superstitious
because once Dunand was better supplied he substituted mushrooms for the
crayfish he’d used in the original version and added wine as well.Napoleon refused to eat it, believing the
change would also change his luck.
was somewhat surprised to come across this recipe in Food and Wine magazine. It comes from the renowned Chef Thomas
Keller of Bouchon Bakery, Per Se, Ad Hoc and The French Laundry fame. He of the $375.00 tasting menu seems to have
turned his attention to some $2.99 lb. boneless chicken breasts. That said, what a wonderful dish this
is! It is crispy, crunchy chicken at its
best. The sauce is a perfect
counterbalance with its lemon-y capers in butter drizzled over the top. This takes all of 15 minutes from start to
finish. And let’s face it, it’s
basically fried chicken – no matter what Chef Keller calls it -- and who
doesn’t love Fried Chicken ?
After I made these golden-seared chicken breasts with their moist center of plump ripe tomatoes, melted cheese and pungent garlic sauce, I wondered if I could call this an original recipe. But when, exactly, is a recipe
an original? This is a hard
question to answer because there don’t seem to be any hard and fast rules.
Interestingly, copyright laws don’t give a lot of help here. From what I have
read, while most cookbooks are themselves copyrighted, the individual recipes
can’t be. The theory is that recipes are in the “public domain”. This relies on the idea that several people
can, at any time, come up with the same thing—ingredients and cooking
techniques being pretty well universal. What copywriting a cookbook does is to bar copying every recipe out of that cookbook, in the same order, and then trying to make money out of your
purloined manuscript. But how then do
people win Recipe contests? Aren’t they
all variations on something else someone else has done? That’s factually correct. People who win
things like the Pillsbury Bake-Off generally do so by adapting a recipe, changing up its key flavors but keeping the
cooking method pretty much one that’s tried and true.