Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rosemary-Scented Chicken Breasts with Caramelized Orange Cranberry Sauce

Rosemary-Scented Chicken Breasts with Caramelized Orange cranberry Sauce

Serves 4

  • Good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts (organic if possible)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-inch branch of fresh rosemary
  • 10 to 12 olives (oil cured, Sicilian, or Kalamata)
  • 1 large blood orange, or navel orange, peeled and the flesh cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 cup dried sweet cranberries
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

1. Lightly film a 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan with the olive oil. Heat it over high heat until oil shimmers slightly. Slip the chicken breasts into the pan, sprinkling them with salt and pepper. Lightly brown them on both sides, taking only about 30 seconds per side.

2. Immediately reduce the heat to medium low, add the olives, rosemary, orange pulp,cranberries, garlic and 1/4 cup of the orange juice. Make sure the liquid is barely bubbling.

3. Cover the pan and cook 3 minutes; turn the chicken, check the sauce for burning (add a few tablespoons of orange juice if needed), and cook another 4 minutes, or until the chicken is firm, but not springy, when pressed. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and keep it warm.

4. Make the sauce by adding another 1/4 to 1/3 cup orange juice to the pan and boiling it down to a syrup while you scrape up any brown bits and glaze from the bottom of the pan. A flat sided wooden spatula is invaluable for this. Swirl the butter into the pan just to blend it in. Scrape the caramelized syrup over the chicken and serve hot.

Cooking Tip for Sauces

Finishing simple pan sauces by swirling in a tablespoon or two of cold unsalted butter (remove the pan from the heat first) enriches the sauce, smoothes out any roughness and thickens the sauce slightly. Besides, that small amount of butter gives you incomparable flavor.