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January 2005 Issue
Cooking New American
by Ronda L. Halpin
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Seared Chicken Breast with Quick Pan Sauce

This technique and the accompanying sauces also would work well with turkey cutlets, boneless pork chops, or sliced pork loin.
  • 4 trimmed boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tenderloin removed and cooked separately or saved for another use
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Flour for dredging
  • Ingredients for pan sauce (see the recipes below)
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
Season the chicken breasts on both sides with ample salt and pepper. Put a handful of flour in a pie pan or other sided plate and position it near the stove. Combine the sauce ingredients of your choice in a 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup or small bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Dredge one of the chicken breasts in the flour, coating both sides well but shaking off any excess. Increase the heat of the pan to medium high.

Before adding the chicken, test the heat of the pan by flicking in a little of the dredging flour. If the flour sizzles enthusiastically and immediately turns golden, the pan is ready. Add the first floured chicken breast. Then quickly flour the remaining breasts and add them to the pan. Cook for about 4 minutes without moving the breasts. Then, starting with the first one in the pan, turn them over and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes on the other side.

Transfer the chicken to a plate or plates and keep it warm. Add the pan sauce ingredients to the hot pan and boil, stirring and scraping up the browned bits in the bottom of the pan, over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and whisk until smooth and glossy. (Tilt the pan to bring the small amount of liquid to one side while you whisk in the butter.) Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
 

 

Quick Pan Sauces

These sauces are designed for 4 chicken breasts, yielding about 1 to 11/2 tablespoons of sauce per breast. If you decide you want a bit more sauce, increase the total liquid ingredients to 2/3 cup and whisk in a little more butter.

Add the flavorings to the hot pan.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Scrape up those yummy stuck-on bits and reduce the liquid by half.

Red Wine and Mustard

  • 1/4 cup low-salt chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Curried Chutney
  • 6 Tablespoons low-salt chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons prepared chutney
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
Orange-Dijon
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
Port with Dried Cherries
  • 1/2 cup port wine
  • 2 Tablespoons dried cherries or cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons seedless raspberry jam
Lemon-Caper
  • 6 Tablespoons low-salt chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons drained capers
Vermouth with Prunes
  • 6 Tablespoons sweet vermouth
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped prunes
Tomato-Tarragon
  • 1/4 cup low-salt chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
  • 4 canned tomatoes, seeded and chopped
 

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