Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chicken with Shallot Cream Sauce

I made this for Valentine's Day dinner, from stuff I happened to have on hand. It is absolutely incredible, and insanely easy at the same time. Braising (browning in fat then cooking in liquid) is a great cooking method for chicken because it ensures the chicken is cooked completely with no risk of drying it out. Shallots, wine, chicken broth and cream come together for a rich sauce that is simple to make.

Because it was a special occasion, I didn't bother with my usual low-fat cooking and used real heavy cream that I had left from creating a cake for a colleague's birthday. To lower the fat and calories, fat free half and half or a can of evaporated skim milk with 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed into it would work as substitutes. Either one will require longer cooking time to thicken. The butter for browning the chicken can also be swapped for cooking spray - just keep a close on it to prevent burning.

For two servings:
  • 2 8 ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts (or four chicken tenders)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided in half
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 cup white wine (I used Lindeman's Chardonnay Riesling blend)
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Mix the flour with the garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour, making sure it's well coated. Melt half the butter or margarine in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Brown the chicken on one side, add the rest of the butter to the skillet, let it melt and brown the other side.

Add the chicken broth, shallots and thyme to the skillet. Raise the heat to high and let cook until the chicken broth is more than half gone. Add the wine and cook until thick and syrupy and reduced by half. Turn the chicken occasionally while it is braising. Remove the chicken from the pan. Add the heavy cream and whisk to combine. Cook over medium high heat until thickened. Let it bubble but not boil, and stir constantly. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

This is great with simple sides like steamed green veggies and rice pilaf or plain mashed potatoes. It's rich, so you don't need to put a ton of effort into complex sides to go with it. Of course, serve the same wine used in the sauce with the chicken!

A picture will be added soon - it was devoured before I took any!

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