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Chicken with Pine Nuts, Mushrooms, and Country Ham Recipe

Pine trees, and therefore, pine nuts, are abundant in the southwest of France, so I went in search of an authentic Les Landes recipe with pine nuts. I found a good one, but had to adapt the recipe just a bit for the impossible to find ingredients in my rural community.  My family gave this dish an A+!

Adapted from  The Cooking of Southwest France : Recipes from France’s Magnificent Rustic Cuisine by Paula Wolfort.

Prep Time:  1 hour | Cook Time: 45 minutes | Servings:  4



  • 3 cups chicken broth, reduced to 1 cup
  • 3 tablespoons of pine nuts
  • 4 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh white mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 to 4 ounces of  country ham (a dried, cured, and smoked ham), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon Cognac


  1. Add chicken broth to heavy saucepan and boil over medium-high heat for 30-45 minutes until reduced to 1 cup.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 300° F.  Place pine nuts on small baking dish and toast in oven until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes, set aside.  Leave oven on.
  3. Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry with paper towels.  Season with salt and pepper.  Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in heavy cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken breasts to cast iron skillet and cook for 3 minutes.  (The chicken breasts are not turned over during cooking at any time.)   Add shallots, lemon juice, and dry white wine.  Continue cooking until the juices are reduced to a glaze for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of the reduced chicken stock to the cast-iron skillet.  Cover the skillet tightly and transfer to the oven.  Roast the chicken until it is just firm to the touch, about 15 – 20 minutes.  Make sure chicken is fully cooked.  Set cast iron skillet aside with reserved juices.
  5. In 10-inch skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté the mushrooms for about 10 minutes.  Add parsley, garlic, salt, to taste, and ham.  Lower heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes.   Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Transfer chicken breasts to a cutting board and cut into 4 diagonal strips against the grain.  Arrange the chicken strips on a heated serving dish.
  7. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of reduced chicken stock to the cast iron skillet with reserved juices.  Place the skillet over medium-high heat and boil for 5 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat and stir in remaining 5 tablespoons of butter, one tablespoon at a time to thicken (you may not need all the butter.)  Stir in the Cognac, remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Strain the sauce over the chicken.  Reheat the mushroom and ham mixture, if needed, until warmed through and spoon over the chicken.  Sprinkle the pine nuts on top and serve.

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