Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Looking for a quick chicken dinner? I’ve got one for you. It’s not super healthy because there are two tablespoons of butter in it, but that’s not as bad as a Paula Deen recipe.

Pan sauces are easy to make and elevate a dish to a whole new (shall we say French?) level. And what’s a pan sauce without a little butter? In a classic pan sauce, you whisk cold butter in at the end — here’s a PDF from Cook’s Illustrated showing how it’s done. This recipe doesn’t do it that way but it’s still delicious.

When I made this the second time, instead of grape or cherry tomatoes, I used plum tomatoes. My final dish tasted great, but I had to lower the heat from high because the tomatoes were burning in an unpleasant way. I’m no Alton Brown but I’m guessing that plum tomatoes, at least the horrid under-ripe supermarket ones I used, don’t have as much juice as cherry or grape tomatoes, and that’s why they were sticking and burning rather than bubbling and melting into caramelized goodness. I added a bit more broth to loosen it up.

If you decide to go second-class, like I did, and use plum tomatoes, lower the heat and keep stirring them around. You want to char them a bit but not so much that it affects the sauce’s flavor. They’ll taste great but they’ll look ugly compared to their pretty round grape tomato cousins, see Exhibit A, photo below.

chicken pan sauce tomatoes oregano recipe

Chicken with Tomato Herb Pan Sauce

You’ll need a small bowl, large skillet and plate.

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied or pounded, cut into medium to large pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, about 1 pint
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth or white wine
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

Season both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge in flour, shaking off the excess. Set aside.  

In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, oregano and paprika. If the butter isn’t softened yet, don’t worry, nuke it at low power for a bit in the microwave and mix it with the other three ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the oregano butter with the olive oil. Place the chicken in the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with foil and set aside.

Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to char and burst, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining butter mixture to the pan. Crush the tomatoes slightly to release their juices and continue stirring until the butter is melted. Add the wine or broth to the pan, scraping the bottom to loosen the browned bits. Cook for a minute more until well blended.  

Add chicken back to the pan. Reheat if necessary. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Original recipe: Chicken with Tomato Herb Pan Sauce, Annie’s Eats

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