Let’s get fancy.
I think there is this common misconception that recipes with words like “shallots” and “cream sauce” and “white wine reduction” has to be hard and time consuming. To be quite frank, understanding the ease and versatility of a basic sauce will make your life so much more exciting. I promise. You’ve got this.
If you’ve never had a shallot before, they are the onion’s milder cousin. They’re perfect for delicate sauces because they just don’t have that almost vulgar pungency that onions do. Sometimes you need vulgarity. Sometimes you need something more akin to Victorian modesty. That’s where shallots come in.
Also, before you start – give that fresh tarragon a hefty whiff. Have you ever smelled something so heavenly? Savory and almost licorice-like. You’re in for a treat.
Part 1: The Chicken
What You’ll Need:
- 4 boneless chicken breasts (near 2lbs total of chicken)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter for cooking
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
- Pat those breasts dry with a paper towel. You want a nice, crusty sear on the chicken when you cook. Wet breasts don’t help. (Yes, I know how that sounds.) Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet (12-inch is best) at a medium-high heat. I use both oil AND butter so that the butter doesn’t burn during the process and for a nice crust and flavor. Season the chicken breasts liberally with salt and pepper.
- Place the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes (depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts) on each side. Try not to move the chicken too much so you can achieve that glorious, golden sear.
- Place the skillet in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until cooked through.
Part 2: The Sauce. The sinful, sensational, seriously salacious sauce.
What You’ll Need:
- 1 cup of dry white wine
- 1 heaping tablespoon of dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1/2 cup of half and half cream
- 2 medium shallots, sliced (which can be found in the onion section of your grocery store)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons of butter plus 1 tablespoon for cooking
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons of chopped, fresh tarragon
- Slice your shallots and mince your garlic. Have these ready for the skillet.
- Carefully remove the skillet with the chicken from the oven. Using tongs, place the chicken on a plate and cover loosely with foil. Place the skillet back on top of the stove and turn to a medium heat and melt the 1 tablespoon of butter in all of the leftover chicken fats and juices in the skillet. (Yeah. The good stuff.)
- Once the butter has melted, put in your shallots and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until the shallots are translucent. Put in your white wine, lemon juice, mustard and let it simmer until it has reduced to about half the original volume. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan and lift up all those wonderful, brown bits from the chicken. This part should take about 3-5 minutes on a low-medium simmer.
- Once the liquid has reduced, slowly pour in the half and half while stirring the sauce. Then the salt and pepper will go in. Make sure you season to taste. A sauce is nothing without good seasoning. (If the liquid has reduced a little too much, add a little more wine or some spare chicken stock if you have it.)
- Bring the sauce to a full boil. Once it reaches a boil, take it off the heat and slowly add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, stirring gently so that the butter is fully incorporated. Luscious. So luscious.
- Stir one tablespoon of the chopped tarragon into the completed sauce. Spoon this ridiculous sauce over the resting chicken and bring out your inner Emeril Lagasse and yell “BAM” as you rain the rest of the chopped tarragon over your beautiful chicken.
Seriously. Rip into it like an animal. Or – be dainty about it. It is a fancy, white-wine reduction sauce after all.
*These beautiful photos were done by the wonderful Elena. Check out her work at elenabertolo.com*