Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pan-Seared Chicken with a Delicious Cream Sauce

This is going to be a kind of lengthy post but I promise this recipe is really easy and worth the time investment.  It will take you about 1.5 hours to pull off, only because you need to caramelize onions which is not labor intensive at all.  What is this recipe you ask? Pan-Seared Chicken with Balsamic Cream Sauce, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions. There is nothing that is not delicious about that title, amiright?? This is my second time making this recipe and me being me I made some edits:

I am sure the original recipe is good. I argue that with my adjustments it's better and more realistic  (if you want me to do a straight up pinterest recipe let me know, otherwise I will keep cooking my way because I really hate wasting when I know a recipe needs help and I can make some adjustments). So without further ado:

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 5 tbsp. butter, divided
  • 8 oz. baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 c. chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

This recipe doesn't specify a type of onion, but I am partial to yellow sweet onions.  I imagine any onion would work (my neighbor loves the noble white onion for instance).  I generally don't like white onions because I feel their flavor is just not as good as other onions.  I used to use red onions quite a bit but here in Texas they cost more than yellow onions and you will look like a goth chic with mascara running everywhere when you slice a red onion.  Or if you're a dude (who doesn't wear mascara), you will just look like you lost your best friend and someone totaled your brand new car.  Or something involving tears and unhappiness. 
Moving on.  Not the case with the good ol' yellow sweet onion.  Also, on the topic of thinly slicing, get yourself a decent chef's knife, it's really one of the only knives you'll need in my opinion - it's just what I've come to rely on over the years.

In a large sauté pan over medium-low to low heat, add 2 tbsp. of butter and the sliced onion.

When you caramelize the onions, you really just have to leave them alone, maybe stir them up every ten minutes or so.  Cook until the onions are nice and caramelized. This requires about 60 minutes but you maybe can get away with 40 minutes. The 20 minutes in the Pinterest recipe is unfortunately not really possible if you want to truly caramelize the onions. The first time I made this recipe they started looking good at the 40 minute mark but today, after 60 minutes, they were still just starting to caramelize (this may mean my stove temp was a off, they can be that finicky!):

While your onions are caramelizing on the stove, it is the PERFECT time to crack open a beer pour a glass of wine work on your "mis-en-place" aka "everything in place" or as us regular folk like to say, getting everything ready for the next steps of cooking.  The Pinterest recipe tells us to halve the baby bella mushrooms.  First of all, that isn't even the case in the picture provided with the pin, where the mushrooms look quartered (and it seems to be sprinkled with chopped parsley which we aren't doing here):

This is what the pin looked like.

Even quartered, I think the mushroom pieces would just be too big.  This is how big a baby bella is:

Big, right?  I mean Lincoln's head would be a boulder compared to his body in baby bella world.  So I went ahead and sliced these lovely mushrooms up in thick slices (I removed the stems because I don't like stems for some weird reason but feel free to keep your stems intact!).

At this point your onions are still caramelizing.  Get out your chicken breasts and trim off any nasty bits.  UNFORTUNATELY, I didn't pay attention when I bought my chicken breasts and they had a LOT of nasty bits:

BLECH!!!!!  I was a little grumpy after having to trim all of that in the "I'm never buying this brand again!" kind of way.  ANYWAY, after you do that, season your chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Then grate your cheese.  I just used a cheap but handy hand grater instead of a box grater:

After this, measure out your liquids and you should have a nice "mis":

Now if you still have time after this, have a dance party, play on your iPad, do some Rodney Yee PM yoga, play with your pets, stare into space, or glare angrily at your onions for not caramelizing faster.
About 5 minutes before your onions are done, season with salt and pepper.  Alton Brown taught me to not season onions with salt at the outset because apparently that affects their texture and I figure better safe than sorry so I follow that advice.  Once your onions are caramelized, remove from the heat and set aside.  In a separate pan over medium-high heat, pan-sear the chicken breasts in the remaining 3 tbsp. of butter.  Brown on both sides, then remove from the pan and set aside on a plate (the chicken will NOT be fully cooked during this stage, you just want to get a nice sear on it).

Deglaze the pan with chicken broth.  Note: if the pan you are using has round sides instead of vertical sides, pour the broth in SLOWLY or it will slop right out of the pan and get everywhere and make you scream like a little girl no this totally didn't happen moving on!  Using a rubber spatula or your trusty wooden spoon you've been using this entire time *cough-me-cough*, scrape the pan and mix in any remaining bits of chicken.  Let simmer 5 minutes.

[I didn't take a picture of this because it was literally liquid simmering in a pan which isn't really helpful or fun to look at....]
Reduce heat to medium-low, add heavy cream, balsamic vinegar, mushrooms (careful not to splash yourself!) and salt and pepper to taste.  Let simmer 10 minutes.

Add the chicken breasts back into the sauce pan, and simmer with the cream mixture until the chicken is cooked all the way through, about 10 to 15 minutes.  I turned my chicken every 4-5 minutes so that's two rotations then wait 4-5 minutes then done!

Remove the chicken breasts from the pan and plate.  Add the Parmesan cheese and caramelized onions to the sauce and stir until the cheese is melted into the sauce.  Then Pour the sauce over top the chicken and gobble up!!!!

I know this does not look even close to as pretty as the Pinterest picture.  However, let us just say that I wish this sauce could be considered a soup so I could eat it all day, and P, who is a renowned onion hater, ate these freakin' onions without a second thought because it's really that good.  Also, even though those chicken breasts started out pretty gross, once I fixed them up they were really yummy, victory!

All right, I know this was a long post but I promised "someone" I would do lots of pictures to be more helpful.  What do you think?  Yay to pictures?  Are you ok with me making modifications to improve the recipes based on my knowledge from practical experience/reading a lot/watching tons of cooking shows?  Or do you want me to follow the pinterest recipes verbatim regardless of the outcome, foreseeable or not?  Let me know in the comments!  And if you have any requests or suggestions, I am always open to them so comment or message me!

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