Chicken Baked in Sherry and Cream is an elegant mid-century chicken dish, suitable for entertaining. This recipe comes to me originally from a 1949 cookbook published by the Eugene (Oregon) Welfare League, now the Eugene Junior League. Like most Junior Leaguer recipes, this dish has a distinct fancy company vibe. The ingredient list is classy but preparation is easy, consistent with the mid-century ethic of Good Household Management.
The title tells you everything you need to know. Chicken Baked in Sherry and Cream is, um, chicken pieces baked in sherry and cream. Preparation is as straightforward as the title implies. First, trim and season the chicken pieces. Then, smother in a one-to-one mixture of sherry and cream. Bake in a hot oven until the sauce has thickened and the chicken has browned nicely. Mechanically, it’s hard to envision a simpler preparation.
The original recipe, unfortunately, comes from a time when instructions were vague and assumed a specific kitchen layout. Instead of specifying cook times or temperatures, the recipe simply calls for cooking “under the broiler” until chicken is done. In my electric oven this is a recipe for only disaster. In my adaptation I’ve opted to cook the chicken in two phases. First, a long bake at a moderate oven temperature to ensure the chicken cooks through and the alcohol has time to evaporate. Finish the chicken with a shorter cook in a very hot oven to brown the chicken and encourage the sauce to thicken. Even still the sauce will be quite thin after cooking. After cooking I simmered the sauce for ten minutes or so while the chicken rested in a warm oven.
I made two other changes to the original recipe. I opted for chicken thighs instead of assorted chicken pieces. The original recipe calls for dissembling two whole fryers. Using chicken thighs instead ensures a more uniform result, and a juicier end product. I also used a heavier hand on the seasoning than the original recipe called for, and used garlic salt instead of table salt.
Chicken Baked in Sherry and Cream was a minor hit with my family. The flavors are subtle, but the cream makes the rich chicken thighs even richer. I served the chicken with a side of white rice and frozen peas, in keeping with the mid-century esthetic. The rice soaked up the tasty sauce and the peas added some much needed vegetable matter to the whole affair. This would also work well with garlic mashed potatoes, particularly if the cream were thickened with a little bit of flour. Enjoy!
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Trim chicken thighs, and season generously with salt and pepper. Lay chicken in a single layer in a large 13 x 9 baking dish.
- Mix cream and sherry in a medium bowl and pour over the chicken.
- Bake for 30 minutes at 350° F, turning chicken every 10-15 minutes to ensure even coating.
- After 30 minutes, increase oven temperature to 475° F. Continue cooking chicken, turning every 5 minutes or so until chicken skin is well browned and chicken is cooked through (165-175° F internal for dark meat).
- Reduce oven temperature to 250° F. Remove chicken to a clean baking tray and keep in the oven, loosely tented with foil.
- Pour cream sauce into a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened. Take care not to burn the cream.
- Serve with reduced cream sauce on the side.