Some foods — truffles, caviar, Kobe beef — symbolize luxury, and if there's a beverage that captures and epitomizes that same quality, it would have to be champagne.
So the idea of making a sauce with champagne conjures up notions of outright decadence — like sprinkling flakes of gold on a chocolate cake.
This recipe calls for about half a cup of champagne, so it's also a great way to use any leftover champagne you might happen to have left over after a celebration.
But there's no reason you can't make it any old time.
What's the occasion? they'll ask when they hear you pop open a bottle of bubbly. Oh, I just wanted to make something special for you, you'll answer, and thus you'll have won their hearts before they ever even taste the chicken.
I always like to remind people that when cooking with wine, use the best you can afford, or at the very least something you'd enjoy drinking.
In this case I'd recommend a champagne of the Brut variety, which has the least sweetness.
Finally, I've written this recipe with poached boneless and skinless chicken breasts. You'll want to use breast filets that are 4 to 6 ounces each, not those huge 12-ounce breast halves that they're selling these days. If all you can find are the huge ones, you can filet them yourself by laying them flat on your cutting board and slicing them in half horizontally.
But if you don't favor poached chicken, you could also flatten the breasts, dredge them in seasoned flour and sauté them. Or even oven-roast skin-on chicken pieces in a cast-iron skillet. The acidity of the champagne, the saltiness of the prosciutto and the creaminess of the sauce will complement the chicken beautifully no matter what.
- 4 medium chicken breasts filets (about 4 to 6 oz each), boneless & skinless
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 slices prosciutto (paper thin), finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
- ½ cup dry champagne
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Place the chicken breasts at the bottom of a large soup pot or saucepan. Cover with cold water and add the salt, carrots, celery and onion.
- Bring the pot to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Simmer very gently for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pot tightly and let the chicken sit in the hot water for about 15 minutes. Remove the breasts, drain them and set them aside to cool slightly while you make the sauce.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat for a minute, then add the olive oil and heat for another 30 seconds or so. Add the shallots and sauté until slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Add prosciutto and sauté for another minute.
- Add the champagne to the pan, bring it to a boil and let it reduce for about two minutes. Add the cream, bring to a gentle boil again, then lower heat to a simmer and reduce for another two minutes.
- Add the chicken and the tarragon to the pan and simmer for another minute or until the chicken is heated through and the sauce has bubbled vigorously for a few moments. Now remove the chicken and arrange on serving plates. Swirl the butter into the sauce and season to taste with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Top the chicken generously with the sauce and serve immediately.