Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Sorry for the long radio silence. My ancient-but-beloved oven is broken AGAIN, and I’ve been without the use of it for more than a month now, which is kind of casting a pall on my cooking enthusiasm. Sure, at least this time it’s still physically with us, and the broiler actually works, and there are a lot of things you can cook with a stove and a broiler. Did you know that you can even make pizza on the stovetop in a cast-iron skillet? It took me a few tries to fully get the hang of it, but it turns out pretty damn good, with a professional-quality charred-crispy crust. BUT STILL. Everyone keeps telling me, “Oh, at least it’s summer, when it’s too hot to turn on the oven anyway!” But you know what? It’s not that hot, and I do use my oven in the summer, because I am crazy. For me, living without a stove is like living without a car probably is for most people—sure, it can be done, but it’s inconvenient and frustrating. Suddenly all I want to do is bake. Oh, cookies, breads, roasted chicken, baked potatoes, and roasted vegetables, how I miss you!

At least there are occasional bright spots, like this fantastic shallot sauce from The Kitchen. I’d bookmarked it because it uses jam, and I tend to have about five half-full jars of homemade jam in my fridge at any one time, because as we’ve discussed before, I like to make it more than I like to eat it. The recipe calls for apricot jam, but raspberry is mentioned as a possible substitute, and I used vanilla bourbon peach, which: holy cow. As if quick-caramelized shallots with savory chicken broth, a tangy hit of balsamic vinegar, and fruity sugar weren’t enough, I think the vanilla and booze puts it over the top into sheer awesomeness. This sauce is an easy but impressive way to dress up simple sautéed chicken breasts, and as the original recipe mentions, it would be good on pork as well. Personally, I could just eat it with a spoon. But next time I post, I’m going to tell you how I used it to make a sandwich that truly knocked my socks off. Is that a cliffhanger, or what? In the meantime, make this sauce and slather it on whatever you happen to have lying around the kitchen.

For the chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup chicken broth

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 medium shallots, peeled and sliced thin
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 heaping tablespoons apricot jam or other preserves (such as peach or raspberry)
Salt and pepper

1. Season each chicken breast with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Cook the chicken breasts for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until they develop a golden-brown crust. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 5 more minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

2. When the chicken is finished cooking, remove from the pan, set on a plate, and cover with foil to keep warm. Return the heat to high and add the ¼ cup of chicken broth, deglazing the pan and scraping the brown bits from the bottom. Reduce slightly, then drizzle these pan juices over the chicken and re-cover the plate.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes, until they begin to get soft and the bottom of the pan begins to brown.

4. Add ½ cup chicken broth to the shallots, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Let the broth reduce, then add the balsamic vinegar, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Add the jam and stir to combine. Remove from heat.

5. To serve, slice the chicken and top with the shallot sauce.

Serves: 4
Time: 45 minutes
Leftover potential: Good.

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