- 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 4 chicken breast halves, boned and skinned Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper Flour, for dredging
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot, or 1⁄4 cup minced green onion
- 3⁄4 pound mushrooms (button, oyster, chanterelle or an assortment), sliced 1⁄4 inch thick
- 3 tablespoons dry sherry or Madeira
- Dash of sweet soy sauce (see Note)
- 4 slices bread, crusts removed, toasted and lightly buttered (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives, for garnish (omit if using green onion)
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 30 min
Total time: 45 min
Bring the stock to a boil, reduce the heat to a lively simmer and cook until the volume is reduced to about 1⁄2 cup. (This can be done ahead of time.)
Have a warm serving dish or individual warm plates ready. Season the chicken breasts lightly with salt and pepper. Spread some flour on a dinner plate. Heat a 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat with enough of the oil to lightly cover the bottom. Dredge a chicken breast in the flour, shake off the excess and add to the pan smooth side down. Repeat with the remaining breasts. Cook until nicely browned on the first side, turn and brown on the other side. Transfer to the serving dish as soon as the thickest part feels springy.
Add a bit more oil if the skillet seems dry. Add the shallots, cook for a few seconds and add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms exude their liquid, then add the sherry and soy sauce and cook until the liquid is nearly gone. Add the reduced stock, bring to a boil, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Return the chicken breasts to the pan, along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate, reheat briefly and arrange the breasts on the platter or on top of the optional toasts. Spoon the sauce over the top and serve immediately, garnished with chives.
A little soy sauce and a touch of sweetness do wonders for mushroom flavor, even outside of an Asian context. If you have a sweet, thick Southeast Asian soy sauce such as the Thai kwong hung seng or Indonesian kecap manis on hand, it is ideal for this recipe. I wouldn’t go out and buy some just for this purpose (ordinary soy sauce will do, plus a pinch of sugar if the sauce needs more rounding), but look for some the next time you are shopping in an Asian market.
Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Cream Sauce
Use only 1 cup stock and add 2⁄3 cup whipping cream or crème fraîche to the stock before boiling. Bring to a boil and reduce by about a third.
Good to know
Very simple, but very good, this dish should be in every cook’s repertoire. The toast is optional, but I like the way it soaks up the excess sauce. You can use ordinary button mushrooms or fancy varieties like chanterelles, hedgehogs, morels or fresh shiitake (I don’t like the last, but I know a lot of people do). When you want to throw calorie caution to the wind, make the variation with cream that follows the recipe. In either case, serve with a bright green vegetable like sugar snap peas.
Which beer should I drink with this?
Just about any beer; I especially like a dry-finishing porter with the cream version. Alaskan Smoked Porter is an intriguing variation on the theme.