Catalina Cooking: Poulet saute … sauce cognac!

Poulet saute can be made on the fly. However, it is not meant for people on diets. Courtesy photo

Sounds very fancy. In reality a very easy dinner to make when you are on the fly. Great for that first date or a bunch of friends in their teens staying at the Hermosa Hotel Cottages and I am the cook. I did not catch the curtains on fire with the flambé. I almost did. I stayed there a couple years ago and it is timeless. Back then you had the B & W TV and for $5. Next door you could rent a beta player and tapes as I recall. I think the cottages were $40 a night. That was the ’70s for sure. Anyway when the last of spring is cold and rainy and the moon is full … you just need some comfort food. This is it. Not for the dieter however …

• 4 nice chicken breasts cubed into about 6-8 pieces. Half the size of your thumb Lightly season

• 3 T peanut oil

• 6 T unsalted butter

• 2 shallots minced

• 1/4 cup brandy or cognac

• Pint of heavy cream … ouch

• 1/4 T chopped fresh thyme

• 1 bunch chives sliced thin

• A couple pounds of new potatoes boiled until done

• 3 T chopped parsley

• 6 large carrots quartered lengthwise

• As always fresh berries with leftover heavy cream. Vanilla and honey to sweeten.

First you want to cook your potatoes and keep them warm in hot water. Blanch your carrots al dente and put on the side. Take half 1/4 of your pint or 1/2 of your half pint of cream and whip with the honey and vanilla to taste and refrigerate.

Warm your plates in the over or boil some water and pour over the plates in a sink. Don’t waste the water.

Take a large sauté pan and get it hot. You should be using cast iron or the stainless steel. The aluminum and Teflon are proving to be not so good for your health as it turns the past few years.

Put in your peanut oil and 1 T of butter. When the butter is browning and nutty, carefully add the chicken in batches not to crowd. You want to brown and put in a dish on the side as you cook the chicken. About 4 minutes each batch. When complete, take a paper towel and blot out the extra fat being careful to not disturb the flavor on the bottom of the pan. Add the shallots and toss around. Remove from heat and add the Cognac. Carefully take back to the heat and flambé standing back and let the alcohol cook out. (watch out for curtains) When this is reduced to a bit of a syrup, add the 3/4 of a pint of cream and stir while reducing. You want to reduce this for about 12 minutes being careful to not boil over or break the cream. When it is a nice creamy sauce, add another T of butter and swirl it around. Pour the jus from the chicken in and add the chicken and herbs under low heat. Toss your potatoes in a bit of butter parsley, salt and pepper. The same for your carrots. Done.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I have enjoyed it. Just don’t have it too often. Now figure out your work out to burn off all the calories and fat in this one …

Capt. Vaughn Allen was a private chef and butler for the ultra rich and famous most of his life. Vaughn was recently called out of retirement to cook the intimate celebration dinner for Sir Ringo Starr and his close friends. Vaughn is a businessman, scuba instructor and most recently a yacht broker in Redondo Beach. You can contact him at


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