Weeknight Wonders {Poppyseed Chicken}

The first time I made Poppyseed Chicken I was working off of a photocopied recipe from one of my mother’s cookbooks.  She had these notes written in the margins, dated August 20, 1988, “Easy to make, pretty for a party, served with rice and green beans with almonds…Renee says this is divine.”  I tend to agree with Renee.  Poppyseed Chicken, when done right, is divine.

However, the first time I tried my hand at Poppyseed Chicken I ended up with what I would call Poppyseed Chicken Sauce.  It lacked the substance I tend to expect from a main course.  So I came up with my own version, still holding true to the original components, but giving it a little bit more ooomph.

Let’s get a few things straight about Poppyseed Chicken.  This is not gourmet cooking.  This is not healthy cooking.  This is not even modern cooking.  This is nostalgic, throw-back cooking at it’s best.  Put on your favorite apron, wear your heels, and pretend you are Donna Reed while you cook this one.  It’s the only way.

You shouldn’t try to over think the ingredients.  Consider them like a time capsule, a glimpse back to a simpler way of life before trans fat and high cholesterol.  In fact, the title ingredient doesn’t even contribute anything other than visual excitement to this dish.  Everything else, though, works to make a delicious creamy dish that will challenge your no-seconds rule.  The ingredients are Ritz Crackers, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, butter, mushrooms {from a jar!}, poppy seeds, white wine, and chicken.

Let’s talk about the white wine.

When wine is on the list of ingredients, it’s usually very crucial.  It’s not the kind of thing you want to leave out.  Why?  Well, because there are some flavors that can only be released by alcohol.  So it’s not always the flavor of the wine that is the critical part of the recipe, but the flavors that the wine will release in all the other ingredients as well.  Does that make sense?

I love how recipe writers assume one of two things about me when they include wine on the ingredient list.  One:   I drink so much wine that I always have half a bottle of something lying around to throw into a recipe.  Two:  I have so much money that it’s no big deal to buy a whole bottle just for the 1/2 cup that the recipe calls for.

If you don’t keep wine on hand, or if you find yourself plum out of leftover wine from last night’s cocktail party, I have a solution for you.  In the wine aisle of most grocery stores there are little miniature four-packs of wine that I guess are designed for things like romantic picnics or stashing in your purse.  They make a great pantry staple for situations when you need a little bit of wine for a recipe, and best of all, they are wonderfully inexpensive.

A few other helpful hints…

1.  Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup is far superior to the generics and worth the extra pennies.

2.  This dish can be made up to 1 day in advance.

3.  Don’t leave out the wine {see above}.  The dish is not the same without it.

4.  Make sure you serve Poppyseed Chicken over rice and alongside something green.  All those processed white ingredients need something vibrant and alive next to them on the plate.

Click below for a printable version of the recipe.  Enjoy!

{Poppyseed Chicken}

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4 Responses to Weeknight Wonders {Poppyseed Chicken}

  1. Pingback: The Menu Board | katherine sasser

  2. Pingback: Weeknight Wonders {King Ranch Casserole} | katherine sasser

  3. Sarah says:

    You crack me up. I’m going to put on my heels and dig out the mini wine bottle I have stashed in my purse. . .

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