Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts with Lemon-Chive Sauce

One of my favorite comic strip memories is from the Far Side by Gary Larson showing a snapshot of the "boneless, skinless chicken farm"...all these chickens just flopped over.  Although I grew up with this particular cut of meat I have shunned it for a few years, only using it occasionally.  I mean, it is a pretty boring cut, you have to admit.  Usually overcooked, not a lot of flavor, and generally sliced on top of a "California" salad.

So I was curious when I found this recipe in Cooks Illustrated.  (By the way...I've recently discovered that recipes and fashion cannot be copyrighted)  The chicken breasts are first roasted in the oven at a low heat, warming them up to about 150 degrees.  Then they are brushed with a flavorful paste and pan-seared until they have a nice crust.  AND THEN THE SAUCE....

Oh, the sauce.  Saucing a dish is so very fancy, so Top Chef, so professional.  I fervently wish that I could just whip up various sauces without breaking my neck looking back and forth from recipe to dish.  The lemon-chive sauce recommended for the chicken is FANTASTIC (and easy)!!

I may just start liking chicken breasts again.

Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts with Lemon-Chive Sauce
(serves 4-6)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp kosher salt (1 tsp table salt)
1 TB veg oil
2 TB butter, melted
1 TB flour
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 recipe lemon-chive sauce (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Prick the thickest part of the breasts with a fork 5 to 6 times.  Sprinkle each with 1/2 tsp kosher salt.  Place chicken, skinned side down, in a 13x9 inch baking dish and cover tightly with foil.  Bake 30-40 minutes until breast is about 145 degrees.

2.  Remove the chicken from the dish to a paper towel lined plate.  Pat dry.  Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet over MH heat until almost smoking.  While pan is heating, whisk the butter, flour, cornstarch, and pepper together.  Lightly brush the top side of each breast with the mixture.  Place chicken in the skillet and cook 3-4 minutes.  Brush other side of breast with the butter mixture.  Flip the chicken over, reduce heat to Medium and brown the other side for 3-4 minutes.  Transfer to a large plate while preparing sauce.

Lemon-Chive Sauce

1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 TB)
1 tsp flour
1 c chicken broth
1 TB juice from 1 lemon
1 TB minced fresh chives
1 TB butter, chilled
Salt and pepper

1.  Add the shallot to the empty skillet.  Cook over Medium heat until soft (2 minutes).  Add the flour, stirring constantly about 30 seconds.  Add the broth, increase heat to MH, bring to a simmer and scrape off any brown bits from the bottom.  Simmer rapidly for 3-5 minutes reducing liquid to about 3/4 c.  Stir in any accumulated juices and cook another 30 seconds.

2.  Off heat, whisk in the lemon juice, chives, and butter, season to taste.  Spoon over the chicken and serve immediately.

It is not difficult...I served it with my bacon-leek cream corn (another recipe on this site...just use the search button).  While the chicken is roasting, there is plenty of time to make the rest of dinner and set the table.


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