Chicken With Mustard and Tarragon reflects KC cook’s French inspiration

08/19/2014 7:00 AM

08/19/2014 8:40 PM

Donald Booz is an inspired epicure. While he enjoys food and creating cuisines from around the world in his own kitchen, French food is his first love.

Sharing a taste for adventure, Booz and his wife of 41 years, Cindy, recently moved to the Kansas City area from Upland, Calif., to be nearer to their two grown daughters, Colleen and Amanda. Now, Booz relishes making meals to be shared with his family and looks forward to making new foodie friends.

Residence: Overland Park

Occupation: Executive coach and leadership development trainer

Special cooking interest: French food

As a professional certified coach, are you a person who also wants to bring out the best in relationships? I think so. I love sharing what I know to help people experience the best in life. The French have a phrase in cooking: “mise en place,” which means “putting in place.” This is the phrase used in kitchens as a way to organize and arrange the ingredients that will be used in a dish, before actually beginning to prepare it.

I like to think about life in the same way and help people strategically lay out the ingredients they will need to achieve their life goals. Like cooking, life doesn’t just happen, there can be a lot of preparation and steps involved for a successful outcome.

You like to use cooking as a metaphor for life. Did you grow up preparing food at an early age? I grew up in Shippensburg, Pa., and during the summer at a young age, my mother, Helen, taught me the basics of cooking. When both of my parents went to work in factories, it was my job to make the evening meal. That’s when I got my first taste of food appreciation.

When I was an adult, I ended up attending a cooking school in Maryland and eventually moved to Paris and cooked at a bistro there. That really solidified my love for French food and my interest in wine. I ended up taking classes to become a sommelier, and even though I was never certified as such, I still delight in opening a new bottle of wine with others and experiencing its nuances and complex flavors.

Is it a coincidence that your last name is Booz, then? It’s funny you should mention it. In the 19th century, E.C. Booz in Philadelphia started to distill his own liquor called, “Old Cabin Whiskey.” It was sold in very distinctive bottles that resembled log cabins. It was often said that people would go and ask for a bottle of “Booz.” Lore has it that eventually the name Booz had the letter “e” added to the end of it, which ultimately became booze, which is now synonymous with liquor. My great-uncle does family genealogy and is working to confirm our linkage of the family tree to that of E.C. Booz. Regardless, I think I’ve inherited a love of fine food and wine.

Does this recipe fit with your supping sensibilities? For me, it’s not just eating food at the table, it’s about really being present to enjoy the entire experience. I believe sharing food with others can anchor relationships.

This recipe is one that I’ve made since I went to cooking school, which they called émincé (ey-man-sey), which features bite-sized pieces of chicken, warmed in a cream sauce. When I serve a meal, I like to plan all the courses — from appetizer to dessert — and how each will look on the plate. I like to plan what wines to serve and how the table will look, right down to the folded napkins.

When you make food for others, it’s really about sharing who you are and your time with others. I like to make eating with others about the entire experience and make it a memorable event.

Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. E-mail her at to nominate a cook.

Chicken With Mustard and Tarragon

Makes 4 servings

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 shallots, finely minced

1 (8-ounce) package fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 cup dry Marsala wine

3 tablespoons French whole-grain mustard

2 cups heavy whipping cream

4 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves only

In a large sauté pan, warm oil over medium heat. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Sauté chicken pieces until lightly browned on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken from pan and place on warm platter. Set aside.

In same sauté pan, melt butter and add shallots and mushrooms. Sauté over medium heat until soft, about 7 to 10 minutes. Pour in wine and deglaze bottom of pan, scraping up brown bits, as the wine reduces by half, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add mustard and whisk until well combined. Add chicken back to sauté pan. Then add heavy cream and allow to finish cooking, about 7 to 10 minutes, or until warmed through and sauce is thickened. Stir in fresh tarragon right before serving with a side of rice pilaf.

Chicken (no rice), based on 4: 396 calories (79 percent from fat), 35.5 grams total fat (18.5 grams saturated), 130 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams carbohydrates, 15.5 grams protein, 429.5 milligrams sodium, 0.5 grams dietary fiber


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