Napoleon, catering, and standing freezers

For a good part of my childhood, my mother was a gourmet caterer. By herself, in the kitchen of our Upper West Side apartment,she would plan and cook meals for upper-class New Yorkers. I would help sometimes, although admittedly my assistance would more often than not be of the bowl-licking variety.
One of Mom’s signature dishes was chicken Marengo in a hollowed-out brioche. She used it frequently for last-minute events because she only needed to make the brioche. The chicken was prepared, sealed in portion sizes in double-Ziploc bags, and frozen (in our extra-large standing freezer, the only one in our building). All she needed to do at the last minute was grab as many portions as she needed, thaw them, and fill the brioche. Instant showstopper that never failed to impress.
Unfortunately, I got Marengo-ed out at a young age. Not only would Mom use the frozen chicken for her clients, but also for me when she was too busy to cook dinner. Unfrozen chicken Marengo became the default meal of my childhood. It wasn’t long before I point-blank refused to eat it anymore. I reacted to the mere mention of the word “Marengo” much as General Melas must have in his later years.
So why do I give you the recipe here? Well, just because I loathe it and am traumatized by it doesn’t mean it’s not good. Not to mention it’s easy to freeze and reheat.

Chicken Marengo
5 boneless chicken breasts, cut up
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon thyme
3 tablespoons tomato paste (you can use the kind in the squeezy tube)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped (optional: I hate mushrooms)
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1. Heat oil in a large frying pan or Dutch oven. Add chicken saute until golden.
2. Add onions and cook until onions are just translucent, not yet brown. Sprinkle with flour and cook for 3 minutes stirring constantly.
3. Add the garlic, thyme, salt, water, wine, tomato paste, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
4. Set chicken aside. Cover with tinfoil if you plan to serve it immediately.
5. (Optional) Cook mushrooms in the same pan for 15 minutes. Add to chicken, mix thoroughly, sprinkle with parsley and serve with toast. Or freeze. Or fill a hollowed-out brioche.