Monday, February 20, 2012

Pan-seared Chicken Breasts with Lemon & Chive Pan Sauce

Cook's Illustrated really made our Valentine's Day delicious this year!  I keep talking about them, but it's because they are amazing!  This is yet another recipe from their latest cookbook.  My mother-in-law had told me about this one, and I was anxious to try it.  I finally decided to give it a shot and I'm glad I did.  It's a simple method of cooking the breasts first in the oven and then finishing them up on the stove to give them a nice sear.  The result is moist, flavorful chicken.  You then whip up a quick pan sauce and the entire dish is a winner!

My only problem was that my chicken breasts were far too big, so I had to cook them a bit too long, which made them not as good as they should have been.  I should have (and next time I will) cut them in half horizontally - as if you are butterflying them - and then they would be about right.  Obviously you don't need to do that if your chicken breasts are the right size to start with.

Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts with Lemon & Chive Pan Sauce

4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, trimmed
2 tsp. kosher salt (use 1/2 if using table salt)
1 T. vegetable oil
2 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 T. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. pepper

1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. minced fresh chives
1 T. unsalted butter, chilled
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the CHICKEN: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees.  Using fork, poke thickest half of breasts 5-6 times and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt.  Transfer breasts, skinned side down, to 9x13-inch baking dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Bake until breasts register 145-150 degrees, 30-40 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven and transfer, skinned side up, to paper towel-lined plate and pat dry with paper towels.  Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  While skillet is heating, whisk butter, flour, cornstarch, and pepper together in bowl.  Lightly brush top of chicken with half of butter mixture.  Place chicken in skillet, coated side down, and cook until browned, about 4 minutes.  while chicken browns, brush with remaining butter mixture.  flip chicken, reduce heat to medium, and cook until second side is browned and chicken registers 160 degrees, 3-4 minutes.  Transfer chicken to large plate and let rest while preparing sauce.

For the SAUCE: Add shallot to now-empty skillet and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.  Slowly whisk in broth, scraping up any browned bits.  Bring to vigorous simmer and cook until reduced to 3/4 cup, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in any accumulated chicken juices; return to simmer and cook for 30 seconds.  Off heat, whisk in lemon juice, chives, and butter.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately.

Source: Cook's Illustrated Cookbook

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