Chicken with Cherry-Wine Pan Sauce is a 20 minute, one skillet dinner recipe that’s elegant yet easy enough for everyday!
As food bloggers, we tend to start writing about foodie holidays weeks in advance so our readers have time to start thinking about, and putting together, yummy menus in anticipation of the big day. That means by the time the actual holiday rolls around I’ve pretty much totally moved on.
Case in point, I saw a Valentine’s Day commercial the other day and wondered why the heck it was still airing. Oh yeah, because Valentine’s Day isn’t even until this Friday!
Mental note: start thinking about what to get the husband ASAP, as I’ve been politely asked not to get him “boxers with stuff on them” this year, aka his customary Valentine’s Day-themed shorts. Drat.
Anyway, I’m thinking you’re still clued into the fact the the holiday has not, in fact, passed us by, so let me toss one more dinner idea your way for Valentine’s Day - Chicken with Cherry-Wine Pan Sauce.
Simply seasoned chicken breasts are seared then smothered in a dreamy, wine-soaked cherry sauce made right in the same skillet. Is there anything more perfect than this dish for the holiday, between the wine and cherries which mimic your heart melting from your loved one?!
Umm, right. Besides all that, the marriage of frozen sweet cherries and wine with just a wee pat of butter for lusciousness make the most beautiful sauce, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end brightens the whole thing up. 20 minutes. One skillet. Elegant yet easy enough for everyday. How bad could that be?!
Start by searing 4 chicken breasts in a large skillet over medium-high heat, about 6/10 on the heat scale. (I obviously made a fraction of the chicken for these photos!)
Before that though, pound the chicken out to the same thickness so it cooks evenly. Place the chicken on a cutting board then cover with plastic wrap and use a mallet or other heavy flat object (I use a rolling pin) to pound the breasts out to the same thickness. This is CRUCIAL to getting delicious, evenly-cooked chicken!
Brush or mist both sides with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then add to the hot skillet and saute for 3-4 minutes a side, or until cooked through. Remove to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
Next melt 1 Tablespoon butter in the same skillet then add 1 chopped shallot and saute until tender, about 2 minutes.
Once the shallots are tender, carefully pour in 1 cup red wine (I used Cabernet,) 1/2 cup chicken broth, and 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar. I know some people don’t like balsamic vinegar, but you can’t pick it out in the final dish. It just adds a little somethin’ somethin’ to the sauce!
Let the sauce bubble and reduce by about half, 3-4 minutes.
Next add ‘zee star of the Cherry-Wine Pan Sauce – sweet cherries (which do not make the final dish taste sweet – promise!)
You’ll need 12oz fresh or frozen pitted sweet cherries. Make sure you don’t get the sour ones.
Since cherries aren’t in season right now, and cost an arm and a leg, I used frozen cherries. They worked perfectly, and I didn’t even have to thaw them first.
Once the cherries warm in the hot skillet, press lightly on them with a wooden spoon (or whatever you’re using to stir the sauce with,) to help break them up a bit. Next sprinkle in 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (you could use a pinch of dried thyme…in a pinch!)
BTW – I almost always hate buying fresh herbs because I use a FRACTION of the container and inevitably forget about them in the fridge until it’s way, way too late. Anyway, check out these mini clamshells I found at the grocery store. They’re the perfect size for just one or two recipes!
Continue to reduce the sauce until thickened but still syrupy, 2-3 minutes, then stir in 1 Tablespoon butter and the juice of 1/2 lemon. The lemon TOTALLY makes this dish!
You know how on Top Chef they’re always saying, especially Gail, hmmm, yes, this dish is good but it could really use more acid..? It rives me NUTS, but is totally true in this case. I made the recipe once without it, and the lemon version is sooo much better!
Plate the chicken then spoon the luscious, ruby-hued sauce over the top. YUM. I served roasted broccoli on the side, which is just fresh broccoli florets tossed with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper then roasted for 10 minutes at 425 minutes. Perfection!
Chicken with Cherry-Wine Pan Sauce
Inspired by BHG.com
4 chicken breasts (about 1-1/2lbs)
extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 shallot, chopped
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
12oz fresh or frozen pitted sweet cherries NOT sour cherries (if frozen, do not thaw)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
juice of 1/2 lemon
- Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness then brush both sides with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat (6/10) then add chicken and saute until no longer pink, 3-4 minutes a side. Remove to a plate then tent with foil to keep warm.
- Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in same skillet then add shallots and saute until tender, 2 minutes. Add wine, chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, and fresh cherries, if using, then simmer until sauce is reduced by nearly half, 3-4 minutes. If using frozen cherries, add now with thyme then continue to reduce sauce until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes, pressing down on cherries gently with the back of a wooden spoon.
- Remove skillet from heat then stir in remaining Tablespoon butter and lemon juice. Spoon over chicken breasts then serve.
Whether you make this dish on Friday or not, you’ll love it. Elegant yet easy enough for everyday. Enjoy!