Regular readers will note that I’m very fond of Boursin – the garlic-spiked cream cheese which comes in a dear little corrugated tinfoil hat. It’s got a lot more kick than the Philadelphia variety, and I find it much more robust in cooking than other cream cheeses.
It may be a mass-produced cheese, but Boursin actually has quite a history behind it. It’s been around for more than forty years, and was the first large-scale soft cheese production business in France. François Boursin took the idea behind the meal of fromage frais and herbs eaten in French villages (it was a popular meal in Gournay, his own home town), and turned it into “All-natural Gournay cheese”. The ad campaign with the “Du pain, du vin, du Boursin” tagline has been around for nearly as long; it started in 1968, and you can still buy wedge-shaped bits of Boursin for your cheeseboard, if you are the sort of person who has a cheeseboard and thinks Boursin belongs on it.
I like it very much on bread, but Boursin really comes into its own when it’s hot, and acting as a hard sauce.
For this dish you’ll need (per person):
1 breast joint of chicken with skin and bones
1/2 round Boursin
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Butter, olive oil, salt
Push your fingers under the skin of the chicken until it’s loosened and you’ve got a little pocket under all the skin. Push the Boursin under it, squashing and flattening until you’ve forced it all into the pocket. (This is a lot of cheese for a little chicken; just keep going until it’s all packed in there.) Smear any that’s left over the outside of the breast – it’ll help the crust to stick.
Bash the coriander, cumin and a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar; you’re aiming for a rough grind, so don’t go mad with it. Press the spices and salt into the skin side of the chicken breast (which you have cleverly prepared by making it sticky with cheese).
Melt butter (about a teaspoon per breast) and a slug of olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan which will fit in your oven (if you don’t own one, use a non-stick roasting tin on the hob) over a high heat, and put the chicken breasts in it, skin side up, for three minutes. Turn the breasts skin-side down when your three minutes are up, and put the whole pan in the oven at 180c for 25 minutes.
You’ll end up with a sweet, toothsome chicken breast annointed with a creamy garlic sauce, and a crisp, herbed skin. Serve with rice, to soak up the cheese and the chicken’s spicy juices.
Incidentally, the corn in this picture, which I served with the chicken, is white corn (maïs blanc) which I found in France, produced by good old Green Giant. The kernels are paler, smaller and longer than normal niblets, and they’re delicious; buttery and sweet. If anybody has seen any in the UK, please let me know. I’ve only got two tins left, and I seem to have become addicted.