Chicken is getting a major upgrade with this white wine sauce. It’s the tastefully simple way to make staying in for dinner feel nicer than going out. And all it takes is one skillet!
For a long time I’ve been intrigued by the idea of cooking with wine. My brothers love putting a little bit of alcohol (I can’t remember now if it’s bourbon, whiskey, or something else entirely) in marinades when we grill. I’m also picturing dishes like Flaming Alaska. There’s nothing more ‘lit’ than being served a dessert that’s literally on fire.
Last week, I decided to take the plunge and try it out. While at the grocery store I picked up the cheapest bottle of sauvignon blanc I could find, slightly giddy at the thought of using my ID. The novelty still hasn’t worn off. As I tried to check out, though, the cashier gave me a small scare. She couldn’t find my birthday on my license, and then made a mistake on the math, but I quickly remedied the situation. No way was I going to let a miscalculation get in the way of my plans. Besides, I was having friends for Shabbat lunch and knew that they’d be the perfect guinea pigs for this dish.
Oops! Secret’s out now. Friends, I use you for your taste-testing skills. Somehow I don’t think any of you will really complain about this arrangement, but if you do then speak up now or forever hold your peace. It’s a good thing I haven’t tried anything really bad out on anyone…. yet. Fingers crossed we won’t need to cross that bridge.
Scrolling through my recent blog posts, I realize that it’s been a while since I’ve made a main dish, and even longer since I cooked chicken. After making this Slow Cooker Matcha Coconut Curry, it was hard to imagine eating chicken any other way. Except for ground and stuffed in portobello mushroom caps, because I’ve had that several times and could always go for seconds.
Tell me if you can relate to this- whenever I’m gearing up to make chicken, it’s a struggle to figure out a new way to prepare it, so that I don’t bore the bejeezus out of my taste buds. Like the bowl I painted a couple summers ago says, you have to live life with a little spice. Trying to keep track of how many meals I’ve consumed flavored with just salt, pepper, and garlic is impossible. The world may never know.
And that is precisely how I knew it was time to shake things up. As you’ll notice, there’s NO GARLIC in this recipe! Blasphemous? Maybe. Worth it? You bet.
Instead we’re letting the wine create an easy sauce with complex flavors. Imagine a chef on the Food Network pouring wine in a perfect stream into a sizzling pan. That’s what I like to tell myself I looked like. Except I probably didn’t, since this was my first time trying it. Now that I think about it, today is actually a fitting day to share this recipe with you; the first of the month deserves a first experience, don’t you think?
For fear of wasting good ingredients, I did some research on cooking with wine before getting started. Fine Cooking taught me a lot. Here are some of the most important points:
- Add the wine at the beginning. This way the alcohol has enough time to cook off, or else you end up with a strange “raw wine” taste.
- Cook with it only if you’d drink it. Cooking concentrates the flavors, emphasizes everything you don’t like about the taste. Don’t use your finest bottle, though, since the nuances of a fine wine are killed by the heat.
- Stay away from sweet wines. There are exceptions, just like with any rule, but dry wines are more versatile. For white, look for higher acidity; for red, you want moderate tannins.
I find the chemistry behind how heat burns off alcohol fascinating. But that’s the nerd in me poking her head out for a visit. Anyway, after a bit of tweaking, it was just right.
Pan-searing the chicken breasts means that you can cook them without worrying about drying them out. Cooking everything in one skillet (hear that? Just one dish to wash!) keeps the juices from the chicken in the sauce, creating a seamless blend. Browned onions give an extra element of interest, until finally it all comes together in one of the most flavorful sauce I’ve made.
As we head into November, give yourself something to be grateful for right off the bat. Enjoy the simplest, yet classiest at-home dinner ever with someone you love. Then be sure to tell me about it, and pay that feeling of gratitude forward!
If you try this recipe, I’d love your feedback. Leave a comment below, save it on Pinterest, or tag #lensesandlentils on Instagram to share!
- 4 (approx. 6 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp oregano, divided
- ½ tsp salt, divided
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 medium onion, sliced in rings
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- ½ cup sauvignon blanc
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp arrowroot starch
- ½ tsp thyme
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Place the chicken breasts (round side down) in pan and sprinkle with ½ a teaspoon of oregano, ¼ teaspoon salt, and the black pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Flip, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 5-7 minutes more, until cooked through.*
- Remove chicken and set aside. In the same pan, heat remaining oil. Brown the onion rings for 2 minutes over medium-low flame.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet, stirring to dissolve the arrowroot starch. Let cook, continuing to stir occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, until sauce gets slightly thicker.**
- Return the chicken to the pan and baste with the sauce. Serve hot.
- Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
**The sauce does not reduce to a very thick gravy-like texture, but you'll notice that it's less liquid than when you started. It should reach a light boil at least before you add the chicken back to the pan.