Big Joe shares Pete Stone’s Cheers Chicken
The flavor of this dish is outstanding. Pete Stone worked at the legendary saloon and restaurant Cheers, in Long Branch. Sadly Cheers ceased to exist many years ago when my friend George Beckett, the owner, said that the run was a great one, and now it was time to get out.
George sold the place on a high note, a time when the bar achieved legendary status. They had done it all at Cheers. The bands who played there read like a who’s who in rock and roll history from Bruce to Bon Jovi to Jewell to Dion and local icons Southside Johnny, Pat Guadagno, Bobby Bandiera along with Pittsburgh “King” Stormin Norman Nardini.
Cheers was the place to go for entertainment. My favorite night was Sunday night. It was a place much like the TV show, where everybody knew your name and the bar was filled with a cast of characters similarly found in the Star Wars bar.
Pete, while at Cheers, was a good cook and a great practical joker. One time when Pete was in the kitchen he stuffed a long beef loin up his sleeve, and was working the slicing machine. He pretended to slice his arm off and was wailing around the ground with this loin flopping out of his chef jacket sleeve!
Guys were running out of the kitchen into a crowded restaurant screaming at the top of their lungs. When other servers and staff came into the kitchen to see what the problem was, Pete was standing calmly working the slicer with a look of puzzlement on his face as to why all the commotion.
George has made this dish many times since and it’s one of my favorites. Thanks, Pete, for all the laughs and great chicken. Thanks, George, for allowing all of us to enjoy it.
2 chicken breasts
1/4 stick of butter
1/4 cup of oil
1/2 cup Chablis
2 tbs. cognac or brandy
2 tbs. half and half
1/2 medium onion sliced
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
How to put it together:
Pound chicken breasts flat (about ¼ inch thick.) Sauté flattened chicken breasts in ¼ stick of butter and ¼ cup of oil (three minutes on each side.)
Remove chicken from pan, pour in ½ cup of Chablis, 2 Tablespoons of Cognac or Brandy, 2 tablespoons of half and half, sprinkle generously with tarragon, add 1 teaspoon of chicken base.
Sauté onions and mushrooms. Turn heat to high and reduce sauce for about 3 minutes.
Pour sauce over chicken and serve with a side of rice or potatoes.