Champagne Chicken ~ The Merchant of Menace

It’s said that, on average, champagne corks kill approximately 24 people a year- far more than the 10 killed by sharks.

Still, Sister Madly decided to risk it with the champagne rather than find sanctuary with a posse of sharks. She likes to live dangerously.

It was the end of October, when the veil between the worlds is said to be its thinnest, and when the living honor those who have passed on through a variety of traditions, including a celebration known as a Dumb Supper.

Now, Sister Madly has attempted a few Dumb Suppers in the past, and with mixed results.* Of course, this could be that the Departed were already engaged in another Dumb Supper across town, or were busy in the southern hemisphere doing southern hemisphere-ish things. Still, she had to consider the possibility that she was completely lacking in the area of social graces, and that the Departed refused to associate with anyone but the elite. Thus, Sister Madly decided to not only host a trial supper, but with a guest.

* Unsuccessful, and even more unsuccessful.

And what Dearly-Departed guest would be more appropriate than Vincent Price?

For a posh dinner party, one must be properly dressed; and for the Merchant of Menace such attire should be both classy and theatrical. Sister Madly has accumulated a most eclectic array of costumes during her Renaissance Faire Days, down to the satin-lined cloak worthy of an Elder god ritual. She admits it may be a bit show-offy for a Dumb Supper, but it would be perfect of the Vincent Price Trial Run. No doubt he would be wearing one as well.

Unfortunately, Sister Madly looked nothing like the sinister, show-offy cultist of her most excellent imagination, but a portable keyhole- something she did not realize during her Renaissance Faire Days. Did she always look like the gateway to another dimension? Why didn’t anyone ever tell her this?

Thanks a lot, fellas.

As for the feast- Mr. Price was a gourmand in his day, and the not-so-sinister Sister Madly couldn’t get away with Frozen Tater Tots and cans of Spaghetti O’s, even if she did garnish it with a lemon wedge and a sprig of parsley. A culinary effort would have to be made on her part, if only to apologize for dressing as a particularly unmenacing Keyhole.

So what could be more appropriate than a dish from A Treasury of Great Recipes, authored by Vincent Price himself?

No doubt he would be pleased that Sister Madly acknowledged his talents beyond The Pit and the Pendulum, and be touched that she was so thoughtful. And should she replicate his recipe to a ‘T’,* Mr. Price would put in a good word for her with gods of the afterlife, who will no doubt permit her to haunt the living willy-nilly. Of course, should she fail, Mr. Price may plague her with wicked laughter, poltergeists, and B-movie dreams for the rest of her life.

* What is this ‘T’ anyway, and why is it the standard to which everyone aspires?

So Sister Madly settled on a delicacy entitled Poularde Pavilion– that is, Champagne Chicken.* That sounded posh.

* Poularde Pavilion does not translate to Champagne Chicken on Google Translate, but Sister Madly is not one to question the magnificent Vincent Price.

Naturally, merely purchasing a bottle of champagne can bring about delusions of sophistication far beyond one’s station. However, Sister Madly- being most adult- retained enough sense to know she might horribly screw up the opening of said bottle; and as she hoped to get her security deposit back one day- and since she wasn’t quite ready to shuffle off this mortal coil in the most embarrassing way possible- Sister Madly opened the bottle on the fire escape outside.

Science can be a beautiful thing to witness, be it fireflies, the way liquid mercury separates, or the Northern Lights; and while there may be a ‘proper’ way of opening champagne, there is nothing more magical than the moment the internal pressure forces the cork from the bottle, and sends it sailing off into the sunset.

Or, as in the case of Sister Madly, over the fence and into the neighbor’s kiddie pool

Naturally, this left Sister Madly pondering one of the Great Mysteries of Life: how fast does a champagne cork travel?*

* Up to 60mph, it turns out- which is a $435 fine and possible license suspension up to 30 days should that Cork be pulled over in Sister Madly’s neighborhood.

Sister Madly did not replicate Mr. Price’s recipe to a ‘T’.
She gave up when instructed to preheat the oven to ‘moderate.’


  • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in
  • 1¼ cup champagne or other sparkling wine, divided (¼ cup + 1 cup)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Heavy cream, to taste (opt)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • pearl onions, peeled
  • wild mushrooms, sliced
  • pancetta, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp dried tarragon
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • pinch cayenne, or to taste (opt)
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • Oil, for searing

Season chicken w/salt and pepper
In heated skillet, brown chicken on both sides, 3-5 min per side
Remove from skillet; set aside
Sauté pancetta; 2-3 min
Add garlic, pearl onions, and mushrooms; sauté 2-3 min
Add herbs; sauté 30 sec
Deglaze with ¼ cup champagne
Return chicken to skillet
Add broth and remaining champagne
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer: 20-25 min
Uncover; simmer until sauce is reduced by half
Stir in cream (if using) simmer 2-3 min
Remove from heat and serve

THEME SONG: Haunted, Maya Kern


15 responses

  1. Poularde Pavilion – clearly it’s the Intent that counts (because who wants to focus on the fat old hen?)
    I wonder if Mr Price used the Dutch “Poularde Den Dungen”?
    Anyhow, how can this be considered a classy dish if the champagne is served in a cup? A cup! It’s got to be glass, even if that’s an old jam jar. What’s the point of bubbles if you can’t watch them sparkle?

    Oh, too many questions – so just to set your mind at rest, I can assure you that the denizens of the underworld (i.e. the Southern hemisphere) celebrate the same day of the dead… just warmer. Ravens, as I’m sure you have figured out, can cross the line at will, so I have first hand experience of unseasonably warm festivals.
    Dumb BBQ anybody?

    Liked by 2 people

    November 1, 2018 at 11:02 AM

    • I believe a Dumb BBQ would be even more difficult to host, as I already have trouble complying with the ‘dumb’ part… and should I set the entire neighborhood on fire during said BBQ- which, I most certainly will- I will not be allowed to mention it.

      Then again, that might not be a bad thing…

      Liked by 1 person

      November 1, 2018 at 1:22 PM

  2. Pingback: Champagne Chicken ~ The Merchant of Menace — The Sixpence at Her Feet | My Meals are on Wheels

  3. Emma Beane

    You’re writing is exceptionally entertaining!! Kudos once again… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    November 1, 2018 at 6:05 PM

  4. whenmarsmetsaturn

    Ah, so that’s why Price didn’t show up with cloak clad Christopher Lee when I organised my own. I was wondering about that! I was scared there was something wrong with my frites et sel.

    Liked by 2 people

    November 4, 2018 at 7:52 AM

    • I think we were both stood up… he didn’t show here either.

      Perhaps we should have invited him to a Dumb Breakfast, or Dumb Afternoon Tea…

      Liked by 1 person

      November 4, 2018 at 10:31 AM

      • whenmarsmetsaturn

        That’s a good idea. I prefer all my breakfasts dumb.

        Liked by 2 people

        November 4, 2018 at 11:22 AM

  5. I have always wanted to be haunted by Vincent Price. Now I know to dress as a keyhole and serve poorly prepared food. I think the keyhole part is just what I’ve been missing, as every supper at my house is a dumb supper whether I intend it to be so, or not.

    Liked by 2 people

    November 4, 2018 at 12:40 PM

    • I don’t believe Mr. Price ever arrived… I fear the champagne cork may have forever impaled him into the neighbor’s kiddie pool.

      How do you manage a daily dumb supper??? I always find myself talking to myself at every meal- and I often have nothing to say…

      Liked by 1 person

      November 4, 2018 at 4:08 PM

      • Lol. I bust behave in a dumb manner generally … at supper and always. That’s what makes life with me interesting.

        Liked by 2 people

        November 4, 2018 at 4:11 PM

        • Quite frankly, I find your stories most interesting regardless! };~o

          Liked by 2 people

          November 4, 2018 at 4:20 PM

  6. I’ve copied this recipe because I want to make people think I’m posh and champagne in anything is enough to fool the people with whom I associate. Honestly, even given the champagne, it’s unlikely anyone will think I’m posh with duck manure on my boots and dog hair everywhere but I can dream.

    Liked by 2 people

    November 5, 2018 at 8:40 AM

    • Champagne makes everyone look posh! I was wearing mismatched fuzzy socks and my I-really-ought-to-do-the-laundry attire at the time and felt like a sophisticate. ;c)

      It’s good to see you again, my friend.

      Liked by 2 people

      November 5, 2018 at 11:56 AM

      • Thank you. You know you’re truly one of the elite when you can make Champagne Chicken in mismatched fuzzy socks and slightly less than fresh clothing. The common rabble would feel the need to dress up.

        Liked by 2 people

        November 10, 2018 at 9:28 AM

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