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Sautéed Chicken in Red Wine,
Balsamic and Mushroom Sauce
By Charlie Burke

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version of this recipe

We are looking forward to a trip to Rome
later this month with our friend, Dianne,
and, when she came to dinner recently,
I prepared an easy sauté with flavors
we’ll be enjoying in Italy. I chose chicken
thighs which have better flavor
and texture than chicken breasts
and remain moist during cooking.

Skinless and trimmed of fat, they are a healthy alternative to more fatty meats.
The thighs had been rubbed with ground dried rosemary and black pepper
corns and sprinkled with sea salt so they were ready to go at dinner time. With
mushrooms and onions sautéed in the same pan and a quick reduction of red
wine and rich chicken stock, the dish came together quickly and had authentic
flavors.

Because high heat is used, sautés take little time and permit layering of flavors if
several ingredients are sautéed in the same pan. The pan is then deglazed with
liquid, in this case an Italian red from Tuscany and a previously reduced
chicken stock, which incorporates the fond (the caramelized proteins on the
bottom of the pan) and results in a rich sauce containing all the elements in the
dish.

The technique used in this recipe is classic and can be used with different meats
or with fish, choosing complementary aromatic vegetables, usually an allium,
such as garlic, onion and shallot, and whatever else the cook chooses. Wine is
often used as the deglazing liquid, but stock or just water works. Vinegar can
also be used in the reduction, its acidity brightening the flavors, as does lemon
juice. In this preparation aged balsamic vinegar was added at the last minute
because it is too delicate to withstand boiling in the reduction. Use this recipe to
become familiar with sautéeing over high heat, and you will have a reliable
technique, adaptable to many ingredients, for easy flavorful meals.

Four Servings:

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 ½ tablespoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise, then sliced
½ cup dry red wine
1 cup  chicken stock
Aged balsamic vinegar, optional

Grind the rosemary and pepper in a spice grinder. Trim the fat from the chicken
and sprinkle on all sides with the rosemary/pepper powder and salt.
Refrigerate until ready to cook.

Heat a heavy bottomed sauté pan over high heat, add the oil and, when the oil
shimmers, add the chicken, leaving space between the pieces. Turn when the
first side is well browned and continue until the other side is browned and the
interior is just past pink.

Remove the chicken pieces to a plate, pour off the fat and add the mushrooms.
Cook the mushrooms until well browned, and then add the onion. Continue
until onions are translucent. Remove the onions and mushrooms to the plate
with the chicken.

Add the wine to the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the fond.
When the alcohol has boiled off, add the stock and continue reducing until the
liquid is slightly thickened. Return the chicken and vegetables to the pan, along
with any juices on the plate. Taste, adding salt or pepper to taste, toss the
chicken until reheated and serve, pouring the pan sauce over the pieces and
drizzling with aged balsamic, if using.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather
Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.
 
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