Made with a cream sauce that's actually healthy!
Chicken breasts. They so easily become the same uninspiring, flavorless, last-minute resort, piece of poultry. That’s a lot of rather harsh adjectives, I know. This seared Chicken Breasts with our Mushroom Cream Sauce combines fresh thyme, fragrant mushrooms and your own cream sauce to make an incredible chicken dish which could be serve over brown rice or mashed potatoes. Once you taste the rich blend of cream sauce and these umami mushrooms, you’ll never be able to go back to canned sauces.
How To Get The Tender-est of Tender Chicken Breasts
This is where chicken breast dishes often fall flat. Compared to other cuts of chicken, the breast doesn’t offer that much flavor really. For this chicken and mushroom recipe, cooking your chicken properly to ensure only the tender-est of results takes on a new level of importance. First, pat dry your chicken with kitchen towell. If you have the time, let it sit out of the refrigerator for twenty minutes. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. This will help form a crust.
Let’s get controversial. When you’re ready to start cooking, heat up your pan and add olive oil to the chicken itself and not to the pan. This is what some chefs say at least. Place chicken into the dry pan and leave it alone for 4-5 minutes. Your chicken will tell you when it wants to be turned by releasing from the pan easily. If it is not releasing from the pan easily then it isn’t ready. Alternatively, coat your whole pan with olive oil and cook each side of the breast for 1 minute on high until it’s golden on the bottom.
Searing your breast and only covering it with lid once the chicken has been browned is important so that meat’s juices are sealed in, ensuring a tender finish. Browning your meat first will also give you that lovely crisped, caramel exterior. After 20 minutes, the first sign that your chicken is fully cooked is that if you cut into it, the juices will run clear.
Wonder Why Most Cream Sauces Taste So Good At Restaurants?
Butter and salt. That’s it. It’s a well known chef secret that these two additions are what make sauces feel so indulgent. While I do not refute that butter, salt, and full-fat cream make incredible sauces, they often leave me feeling bloated. Heavy cream can also overpower the subtler nuances of the other ingredients. In this recipes, we wanted the earthy mushrooms and fresh thyme to really shine. I also don’t always want to reschedule my whole afternoon because my lunch has sent me into a food-induced couch coma.
Although we haven’t included this in the recipe, let me first share with you my secret addition to these kinds of creamy sauces. Instead of adding butter, achieve that level of indulgence with a swig of cognac. After preparing your cream sauce, add 1/4 cup of cognac. Allow to simmer for a few minutes before serving. White wine also works with the advantage of being a lovely pairing when you sit down to eat this Chicken and Mushroom Cream Sauce. Want that acidity but don’t have any alcohol? A squeeze of lemon also works fantastically to cut through the sauce’s creaminess.
Next up, the mushrooms. White, brown, portobello, cremini, oyster, shiitake or porcini – the world is your oyster… mushroom. Oh dear. My point is use what you have, use what you can find. If you only have access to one variety like the baby bella mushrooms we have suggested, that works too. One crucial point regarding the sliced mushrooms. Do not salt them yet, I repeat, do not salt them. Adding salt prematurely will prevent your mushroom from browning up all lovely in your pan.
Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Cream Sauce
- 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
- 2 cups baby bella mushrooms sliced, optional cremini or button mushrooms
- 1/2 cup onions diced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3/4 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 2 tablespoons thyme leaves fresh, chopped
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Using a meat tenderizer, pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness.
- Salt and pepper both sites of each chicken breast.
- Place a sauté pan with one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Make sure the bottom of the whole pan is coated with the olive oil. Add the chicken breasts. Cook for 1 minute until golden on the bottom. Turn the breasts over and reduce heat to low.
- Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 10 minutes (check time). Do not remove the lid while cooking. After 10 minutes, remove the pan from the heat, still covered, and allow to sit for 10 additional minutes.
- Make sure there is no pink in the middle of the breasts or that a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F when inserted in the center. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside, covered to stay warm. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and mushrooms and onions to the pan and increase heat to medium.
- Allow mushrooms and onions to cook 5 to 8 minutes until the water releases from the mushrooms and evaporates. Whisk in two tablespoons flour and allow to cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.
- Add in the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Add a 1/4 cup of milk, thyme, salt, and pepper. Whisk until thickened. Add another 1/4 of a cup and whisk until thickened. Repeat until all of the sauce has thickened.
- Place chicken on serving plate. Pour sauce over the chicken and serve.
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