[Sometimes I think that Craig’s dad, Steve Johnson, writes more popular posts than I do when he’s at the helm of my site. Here he is, joining the Sauce Week fray, with a Lemon-Caper Beurre Blanc that I hope he makes for me the next time I visit Bellingham. Take it away, Steve!]
Several years ago, when I was developing a real interest in home cooking, my friend and I took an evening cooking class sponsored by our local community college. The recipes and instruction were from Joe Merkling, then chef of the restaurant at the Bellwether Hotel in Bellingham. The dishes he demonstrated that evening included Panko-crusted chicken breasts with a butter sauce. The sauce we made was a classic French beurre blanc (white butter), enhanced with lemon juice, capers and parsley. It was so delicious, so decadent and so rich that when Adam Roberts, The Amateur Gourmet, invited me to do a post during “Sauce Week”, I jumped at the chance. What a perfect excuse to make a sauce that uses a whole cup of butter, heavy cream and herbs!
This is something I make about once every two or three years and I usually need an excuse like a dinner party or a food blog post to justify the extravagance. Another case of something seemingly so bad for you being so good.
For this recipe you’ll need:
3 or 4 whole chicken breasts
Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 egg mixed with a little water
1 cup white wine (I used sauvignon blanc. Muscadet is good, too)
1 shallot, chopped
2 sprigs fresh Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
Juice of 2 lemons
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup unsalted butter, (2 sticks cut into smaller cubes)
2 tablespoons capers
2 pinches of chopped fresh parsley
First, for the chicken:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Season the breasts with salt and pepper.
Heat oil (about ¼ cup) and butter (2-3 tablespoons) in a large over-proof sauté pan over medium high heat until butter stops foaming.
Set out three plates – one with flour, another with a mixture of egg with a little water and the third with Panko.
Flour the breasts on each side, dip them into the egg mixture and then press each breast into the Panko to cover both sides.
Sauté the breasts in the hot oil/butter, 2 to three minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown.
Put the pan into the preheated oven and finish cooking the breasts.
I left mine in about eight minutes in a 350 degree convection oven. Cut into them or use a meat thermometer to determine if they are done.
Keep the chicken breasts warm while you make the sauce.
For the beurre blanc sauce:
Add the chopped shallot, the white wine, the thyme sprigs, the bay leaf and the lemon juice to a saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat until the liquid is reduced by three quarters.
Add the heavy cream.
Continue to boil until this mixture is again reduced by three quarters.
Turn heat down to very low, just enough to melt the butter.
Whisk in butter cubes, 2-3 at a time and incorporate until all the butter is melted. Stir constantly and keep the heat low or the sauce will break.
Strain the sauce through a sieve.
Add the capers and the parsley.
You can keep the sauce warm in a double boiler over warm water, or in a thermos. Again, don’t overheat or boil the sauce at this point.
Remove the cooked breasts from the oven, and slice them into several pieces.
To serve, fan the pieces out onto a plate, drizzle with the lemon-caper beurre blanc, and garnish with parsley.
The richness of the butter sauce and the tang of lemon combine to make this a delicious and special dish. The sauce would be terrific on fish or scallops also.
If you have this often, just don’t tell you doctor!