Chicken Saute

Ingredients

  • A 2½- to 3-pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or salad oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or green onion (scallion)
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • tablespoons flour
  • cups fresh or canned chicken stock
  • ½ bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Chopped parsley (optional)

Method

  1. Place the chicken pieces on a flat board. Sprinkle one side with salt and pepper. Turn the pieces and sprinkle the other side with salt and pepper.

  2. Place a large heavy skillet on the stove. The skillet should be large enough to hold the chicken pieces in one layer. Add 3 tablespoons each of the butter and the oil. Turn the heat to moderate, and when the oil and butter are quite hot but not brown, add the chicken pieces in one layer. Cook over moderate heat until the pieces are quite brown on one side—about 5 minutes. Use a pair of kitchen tongs and turn the pieces over to brown them on the other side--about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to low. Use the tongs to remove the chicken pieces temporarily to a mixing bowl or other container.

  3. Pour off most of the fat from the skillet but try not to pour out the brown cooking particles that mingle with the fat. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet and when it melts add the shallots. Stir them briefly around with a wire whisk. Do not let the shallots burn. When they have cooked briefly, add the wine. Cook the wine until it has almost totally evaporated, but do not brown the shallots.

  4. Sprinkle the flour over the skillet and stir with the whisk. Continue stirring while adding the chicken stock. When the mixture is thickened and smooth, add the bay leaf. Return the chicken to the skillet and cover closely. Simmer over very low heat for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and turn the chicken pieces. Cover again and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes more or until the chicken is fork-tender. Taste the sauce. Add salt and pepper if desired.

  5. Stir in the lemon juice and, if desired, serve sprinkled with chopped parsley. The best accompaniments for this dish include buttered noodles or mashed potatoes.

The Endless Variations of Chicken Sauté

There are as many variations for a chicken sauté as there are particles of salt in the sea. The following is only a sample.

  1. To the recipe as it stands you might add other herbs, such as chopped parsley or thyme.

  2. You might add ½ cup or so of ham, cut into thin strips, about 5 minutes before the chicken is done. In that case you might add a leaf of sage along with the bay leaf.

  3. To the recipe as it stands you might stir in ½ cup of heavy cream at the end and bring it to a boil. If you do this, you should add a little more salt and pepper to taste. And if you’d like to make that cream dish richer, you might beat an egg yolk into the cream before adding it (but be sure not to let the sauce boil or the egg will curdle). And, if desired, add ½ teaspoon or more crushed or chopped tarragon along with the chicken stock. Then serve the dish sprinkled with chopped fresh tarragon if available.

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