January, for me, is always a time of reflection. As I begin another 365-day cycle, I can’t help but reminisce on the experiences I’ve had in past years– from people I’ve met to places I’ve ventured, lessons I’ve learned to things I still haven’t quite figured out yet. Unsurprisingly, a lot of my memories have to do with food.
I don’t believe I’m alone in that, though. There are so many memories we connect with food, whether it be the smell of Mom’s specialty as it cooks, or the panache of a catered meal at a big event, or the pride from a recipe we nailed, or the butterflies that accompanied a first date dinner, or any number of little things that we might not even realize have become a huge part of who we are today. Food is a gigantic part of not only surviving, but living.
That being said, today’s recipe is very special to me. This recipe carries so many memories that I knew I had to share it with you in the new year.
Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Herb Butter Sauce is one of the first recipes I ever successfully cooked, and is largely responsible for my decision to continue teaching myself. It’s a recipe that I have bonded with dozens of people over since, served for easy-yet-impressive meals with company over or cozy nights at home with my roommate and leftover wine. Because I love it so much, I have taught this recipe to many of my friends, who can now claim it as one of the first things they have ever successfully cooked, too. It is still one of my most requested recipes, and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you.
The chicken itself is fantastic, with its savory, cheesy breading, but the true star of this show is the sauce. With equal parts white wine, chicken broth, and heavy cream, the base of the sauce is full of flavor. Once the butter and fresh herbs are added in, though, ooooh myyyy. It is out of this world.
Give it a go. Cook it for yourself, for your family, or for a date. If you’re not a great cook, don’t worry. You can pull this off! Hopefully you’ll wind up connecting it to some awesome memories of your own in 2014.
For the Parmesan Crusted Chicken:
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
- 2 egg whites
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
For the Herb Butter Sauce:
- 1/2 cup Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized portions
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives, parsley, and basil (or other herbs), finely minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Tomatoes and herbs, to garnish
For the Chicken:
- Pound each chicken breast to about 3/4 inch thick.
- Combine the egg whites, cornstarch, and a tablespoon of lemon juice in a shallow dish for dredging. Combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper in another shallow dish.
- Dredge each chicken breast in the egg white mixture, and then in the breadcrumb mixture. Make sure the chicken is completely covered with the breadcrumbs. Let the breadcrumbed chicken sit on a wire rack or baking sheet for 30 minutes to allow the crust to set.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the chicken. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until the crust is golden brown.
- Transfer the chicken to the oven (either in the skillet if it’s oven-proof, or in a baking dish) and finish cooking for 8-10 minutes. As the chicken cooks, prepare the sauce.
For the Sauce:
- Add wine, broth, cream, and lemon juice to a saucepan over medium heat. Let simmer until reduced by half, about 10 minutes, scraping the bottom occasionally.
- Once the sauce has reduced, add in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Whisk the sauce until the butter has completely dissolved. Add in the herbs and the salt and pepper, and cook for an additional few minutes.
- If it seems like your sauce hasn’t thickened to your liking (it most likely didn’t reduce enough in this case), feel free to make a cornstarch slurry (1 tablespoon cold water + 1 tablespoon cornstarch) and whisk it into your sauce and heat over medium high. This should thicken your sauce to your desired consistency.
- Serve the sauce over chicken and your choice of pasta. Garnish with fresh tomatoes and herbs.