I’ve recently been working with Sadie Kendall and her wonderful Kendall Farms Crème Fraiche. Her farm is in Atascadero, CA south of Paso Robles. If you aren’t familiar with crème fraiche, it’s a very old product whose roots go back to the Normandy region of France which is famous for all things milk. It is sometimes confused with sour cream which is similar, but not nearly as rich and complex in flavor. The big advantage in using crème fraiche is that, unlike sour cream, it can be heated and will not “break” or separate. If you’ve ever tried to make a stroganoff with sour cream and heated it too much, you know what I’m talking about.
Sadie says most commercial sour cream is made by direct acidification rather than the slow, old-fashioned fermentation process. Direct acidification is fast and cheap. It results in a product that has one-dimensional flavor and breaks when heated. The butterfat content of commercial sour cream is just under 20% whereas Kendall Farms Crème Fraîche has a minimum butterfat content of 40%.
Besides being ideal for quick warm sauces, it can be whipped and sweetened and used as whipped cream. In fact, crème fraiche can be used in many places where heavy cream is called for. Here are a few of my recipes using Sadie’s crème fraiche. Let me know what you think, and let me know YOUR favorite uses for this delicious decadence.
PAN SEARED CHICKEN BREASTS WITH WHITE WINE, MUSTARD AND CRÈME FRAICHE SAUCE
Serves 4 as a main course
This is a simple recipe based on the classic French pan sauce technique. You could substitute some crushed green peppercorns for the mustard and any fresh herb of your choice for the tarragon.
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/2 cup dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Kendall Farms Crème Fraiche
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
Heat the oil in a sauté pan over moderately high heat. Add the chicken breasts in a single layer, season with salt and pepper and cook on both sides until chicken is golden and just cooked through about 4 minutes depending on thickness. Set aside and keep warm tented with foil.
Add the shallots to the pan and cook over moderate heat until softened but not brown. Add the wine, stock and mustard and cook for 2 – 3 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half. Whisk in the crème fraiche and tarragon along with any juices from the chicken. Serve the chicken on warm plates topped with the sauce.
CURRIED SHRIMP WITH CRÈME FRAICHE
Serves 4 as a main course
Thai curry pastes are available in Asian markets. Mae Ploy is a favorite brand. Basmati or Jasmine rice is a nice addition to this dish.
1 pound large (21 – 25) size shrimp, peeled, deveined and shells reserved
1 cup fruity white wine such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer or Muscat
2 cups low or no salt chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more if desired
1 large onion cut in large dice, about 2 cups
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 tablespoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into large dice
1 tablespoon Thai green or yellow curry paste, or to taste
8 ounces Kendall Farms crème fraiche
1-1/2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup each sliced scallions and lightly packed cilantro sprigs
Combine the shrimp shells, wine and stock and bring to a simmer in a deep saucepan for five minutes. Strain into a large glass measuring cup and discard shells. Rinse out saucepan.
Meanwhile, combine shrimp, lime juice and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Over moderate heat add oil to the saucepan and add the onions, garlic, ginger and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook for a minute more. Add 2 cups of your shrimp stock and crème fraiche and bring to a simmer. Add shrimp and simmer until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Thin if desired with a bit more stock or water. Stir in tomatoes and season with salt to your taste. Serve in warm bowls and sprinkle scallions and cilantro over and serve immediately.