A Splash Of Champagne Adds Tons Of Flavor To Creamy Mushroom Chicken

While cream-based sauces can be decadent and rich, they can also lack brightness due to the heaviness of the dairy. An easy way to get around this is to add a splash of Champagne to your sauce for a bright pop of flavor. Tasting Table recipe developer Jessica Morone does exactly this in her Champagne chicken recipe. "The Champagne gives the dish a really special flavor," says Morone. While the name of this dish may sound elegant and fancy, it's still a fairly straightforward meal anyone can make at home.

What the Champagne does is deglaze the pan, meaning it works to get all those browned bits known as fond — left behind from the chicken, mushrooms, and onions — and incorporates them into the sauce. Deglazing is important because it brings back all the flavor that would have otherwise been lost in the fond. Those brown bits may seem like they're just burnt pieces of food, but the browning acts as a caramelization of whatever has been cooking in the pan, helping the dish develop a richer flavor. In addition to deglazing, Champagne offers its own subtle flavor as well. Once the alcohol cooks out of it, what remains has a light acidic, fruity flavor that works to balance the meal nicely.

What kind of Champagne should you cook with?

A rule of thumb for cooking with alcohol is if you wouldn't drink it, you shouldn't cook with it. Any Champagne you enjoy the taste of will work just fine in this recipe. You don't need to use the most expensive bottle on the market for it to taste good, but you also don't have to settle for the cheapest option. A nice middle ground will be just fine for this dish, and as a bonus, you can enjoy a glass while you're cooking.

However, if you don't have access to Champagne, Morone assures us that using any sparkling white wine as a substitute will work just fine. So if you don't feel like shelling out more for Champagne, you can achieve similar results with another sparkling white wine instead. Any Prosecco or Cava will do in this situation, but one thing to look for if you are choosing a sparkling white wine is the word brut or dry somewhere on the label. A dry wine means there is no residual sugar, so you won't risk making your dish too sweet.