This is a savory, incredible-tasting dish with a wine-based sauce that I could drink, folks. It happened spontaneously one night as I envisioned what I could do with some chicken, a jar of artichoke hearts, and some fresh thyme. Clearly garlic, wine, and heavy cream were going to figure in–and mushrooms as well. As all of my favorite ingredients converged, the heavens rejoiced and the stars broke into celestial song. That’s how good it was.
With the exception of the rice I served it with, this is all made in one skillet (minimal dishes), and has all the comforts but none of the complications of a good coq au vin. Suffice it to say that this is the perfect fall meal. With no further ado, let’s get a-cookin’.
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 TBS butter
3 TBS olive oil
1/4 c flour
Salt and pepper
1 large onion
6 cloves garlic
6 oz mushrooms, sliced thickly
12 oz artichoke hearts from a can or jar, drained
25-30 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
1 1/2 c red wine (I used a cabernet merlot)
2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1 c heavy whipping cream
Please try to ignore the wedge of parmesan in that picture. I quickly ordered it back to its niche in the fridge, while chastising it firmly. “You little attention-getter!” I said, wagging my finger vigorously, “You’d better stay out of my garlic cream sauce!”
Now let’s get the prep done. Thickly slice the mushrooms, mince the garlic, and chop up the onion. I didn’t photograph these steps because I was s’darn hungry! So just pretend I did and let’s keep going. Reserve about 10 sprigs of thyme, but take the leaves off the rest and discard the stems. To easily take the leaves off of the stem, hold it vertically between two fingers (right side up) while pinching the stem between the thumb and index of your opposite hand. Then, starting at the top, simply run your thumb and index downwards. OK, that sounds super confusing. But that’s why we have photography:
The leaves will come right off!
I use meaty mushrooms for this instead of the more common white button mushrooms. The thick slices of good and hearty mushroom were one of my favorite parts of the final dish. They make life worth living.
I mean, can you think of a single recipe I’ve posted here that doesn’t have mushrooms in it? OK, the Chess Pie, you have a point–but seriously: Penne Rosa. Mushroom Sage Pasta. Garlicky Stuffed Portobellos. The Balsamic Pot Roast I’ll be posting about in another week or so. Mushrooms are an essential part of my daily well-being.
But let’s get back to business before I break into a song that starts “Mushrooms are my reason/can’t do without them any season/I must eat them every day/or my joy will fade away.”
Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. It’s important that the chicken be as dry as possible when it hits the pan, because that will allow it to get a nice brown sizzly sear instead of steaming in its own liquid. Sprinkle the pieces liberally on both sides with salt and pepper . . .
. . . then dredge them through the flour and shake off the excess.
Note: the flour coating will cause the pieces of chicken to absorb some of the red wine sauce later on, which results in the underside of the chicken turning a little purple/red. If that seems unappetizing to you, skip the flour coating and just pan-fry the seasoned chicken directly in the butter and oil.
Heat the butter and olive oil over medium high in a large and deep skillet. When the pan is hot, add the chicken.
Cook about 3 minutes per side, until nicely seared.
Remove the chicken and set it aside. It’s still very raw, but don’t worry, we’ll come back to it. Add more oil to the pan if needed, give it a minute or so to heat, toss in the onion and garlic, and fry for 3-4 minutes.
Add the mushrooms . . .
Cook for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour in the red wine.
Just try not to be like me and splatter the whole surrounding area. It was a bloodbath, folks.
Bring it to a boil and let it cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the bouillon powder. Look at that magic in the making . . .
Place the chicken on top of the veggies and sauce . . .
. . . and top each breast with 2 or so sprigs of thyme. I should probably point out at this juncture that I said this recipe “Serves 3” above. That’s because there are 3 chicken breasts involved, and the principles of Mathematics seemed to call for this equanimity. However, in our house it turned out to be more like 4.5 servings because frankly, there’s no way I can consume an entire chicken breast when my fork keeps returning to the piles of white rice slathered in sauce. Know thyself, and thou shalt know how many servings this would be in your household.
Cover the skillet and turn the heat down to low.
Cook for 12-15 minutes. I cooked mine for closer to 20, and the chicken was starting to get a little dry. Moist, perfectly cooked chicken is a heavenly experience, so let this be a warning to you–don’t overcook it like I did! Take the breasts out after 15 minutes max and test for doneness. When the chicken is just cooked through, uncover the skillet and set the chicken aside. Create an aluminum foil tent to keep it warm and ready. Now add the cup of heavy cream to the sauce . . .
Simmer the sauce and veggies until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and reseason.
Serve the chicken over pasta, potatoes or rice, with the veggies and sauce poured over top. Garnish with some more sprigs of thyme.
Here’s the piece of chicken prior to the sauce being poured over in a torrent of amazingness. . .
In fact, if you’re a vegetarian (though if you are it’s unlikely you will have made it this far into the post) just cut out the chicken and make the sauce. That alone is the perfect meal.
Click here for printer-friendly version: Skillet Chicken in a Thyme Red Wine Sauce