It’s actually very easy to make perfect chicken breasts with pan sauce…and when done right, is one of the most delicious ways to serve chicken. The trick is in how you make the sauce itself. What you want is a thick, glossy, full-flavored sauce that complements the flavors of the chicken. This recipe is pretty fail safe as a base, and you should feel free to experiment with the herbs, using the combination you love the most. The technique is one outlined in one of my preferred cookbooks, called The Food Lab, by Kenji Lopez. The book does a fantastic job of describing different cooking techniques and why they work (and what doesn’t). I highly recommend it, especially if you are interested in learning great technique.
Ingredients (serves 2):
1 lb boneless chicken breast with skin on, or 2 smaller ones 6-8 oz each
salt & pepper
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
juice of half a lemon
2 tsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp butter coated in cornstarch (dredge cold butter cubes in cornstarch)
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
(additional/alternative herbs could include thyme, tarragon and/or chervil)
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium high heat, and when hot, add the olive oil. Place the chicken, skin side down, in the pan, and allow to brown undisturbed for about 4-5 minutes. When a spatula can lift the chicken with no sticking at all and the skin is a dark, golden brown, flip the chicken and put the pan into the oven. Cook until done, 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the breast(s) or when the internal temperatures reaches 155 degrees. Remove from the oven, and allow the chicken to rest on a cutting board.
Meanwhile, in the same skillet, make the pan sauce. Pour out all but a generous tablespoon of fat from the pan, put it over medium high heat, and add the garlic and shallots. Stir for 1 minute (do not let the garlic brown), and add the wine. Deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom. Add the chicken broth, turn heat to high, and reduce by 2/3, until there is about 3/4 cup of liquid remaining. Add the lemon juice and soy sauce, and cook another minute or so. Reduce the heat to medium low, and stir in the cubes of butter one at a time, letting them melt completely before adding the next. The sauce will begin to thicken. Allow to simmer after all the butter is incorporated until running a spoon or spatula down the middle of the pan leaves a visible streak that slowly closes as the sauce spreads back out. Stir in the chopped herbs, and taste for seasoning, adjusting salt and pepper as needed. Remove from heat.
Slice your chicken breast across the bias into nice looking diagonal slices. Arrange on a plate, and spoon the sauce over, serving any extra on the side.