So menu planning. Let’s talk about it. As I kind of implied earlier with my whole not giving in to grocery store marketing thing, I’m a pretty list-centric person. I make the list of what we’re going to eat every week, I make a grocery list from that, and then I pretty much stick to the plan. But every week coming up with the plan is kind of hard, because what the heck are we going to eat this week?
I try to recall what we’ve had in the past few weeks, desperate for inspiration…let’s see, there was some chicken somewhere in there…and some fish…and then it all just kind of blurs together. And then I think, why can’t I make this and these for dinner, and okay we’ll throw in some zucchini for good measure (because I am kind of obsessed…except I’m afraid to make it constantly because I’m afraid Gerrit will get tired of it. Me? I do not get tired of things I love). And then comes the day before I plan to go to the grocery store, and I have no idea what we are going to have for dinner that week. And every week I swear that I am going to start figuring out the menu sooner in the week, and some weeks it happens, but most weeks it doesn’t.
So here is my offering to you. Something you can cook for dinner. A chicken dish that is simple to make and tastes deliciously rich. A perfect solution for dinner conundrums. Except now that I’ve made this twice in the past week, I should probably come up with something different for this next week…
The first time I made this recipe, it was so acidic that my teeth hurt. So the next time I cut down on the lemon juice, added a bit more wine, and the result was this perfectly buttery sauce that soaks into the chicken and makes each bite moist and delectable. The shallots add a nice contrast to the flavor of the sauce without being too oniony, which is what I love about shallots, and they add this beautiful light pink color. The whole dish feels fancy without trying to hard. Add some salad and some rice or bread to soak up the extra sauce, and there’s your dinner. Now, what problem shall I solve next?
Chicken with Shallots
adapted from Ina Garten
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
4 boneless, skin-on chicken breasts (boneless, skinless also works fine)
3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, cubed, room temperature*
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Using a paper towel, pat the chicken breasts dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large oven-proof skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. Place the chicken breasts (skin-side down if you are using skin-on breasts) carefully in the oil, cooking for 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Turn the chicken breasts over and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side. Place the skillet with the chicken in the oven, roasting for 12-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
3. While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce. In medium sized saute pan, combine the white wine, lemon juice, and shallots. Cook over medium-high heat until shallots are tender and only 2 tablespoons of liquid remain in the pan, 8-10 minutes (if it reduces too much, you can add more wine). Add cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring sauce to a boil. Remove from heat, and add the diced butter, swirling the pan until butter in incorporated and sauce is thick. Sauce cannot be reheated, so only cook the sauce right before it is needed (if by chance you have cooked your chicken ahead of time**.)
4. Serve the chicken warm with the sauce spooned over it.
*I’m really not sure why room temperature butter is specified here, but I suspect it has something to do with the butter incorporating in to the sauce more quickly and helping the sauce to remain thick by not shocking it with something cold (anyone have more insight on this than I do?). In other sauces (like hollandaise) room temperature butter it important so that it is incorporated quickly, cutting down on your cooking time, and therefore cutting down on your chance or scrambling your eggs. But in this sauce, if your butter isn’t quite at room temperature, I wouldn’t panic. It will still taste delicious.
**To make this recipe even easier with less “hands-on” time (although a longer cooking time), I see no reason why you couldn’t roast the chicken breasts fully in the oven and then serve them with the sauce, cutting out the whole process of browning them. But remember to time it right with the sauce, so that the sauce is not cold by the time the chicken is done.