If you have ever worked in restaurants, you would know that there are always little tricks of the trade to ensure the food is full of flavor. You would also know that “waste not want not” is a motto that is firmly adhered to in every restaurant, particularly all the good ones. So how can you get the most bang for your buck while bringing out the best flavors too? One simple little trick is to make a fond from the meat leftovers in the pan that naturally occur when browning meats.
Fond is the delicious caramelized bits of meat found on the bottom of the pan or skillet after browning or searing meats. One of the best ways to use this fond is to add a liquid broth or wine to deglaze the pan. Juices are also used. Usually you want something with some acidity, that’s why both wine and lemon juice are so prominently used for this purpose. The fond, combined with the liquids and spices are the basis for most sauces that are used to accompany meats.
What makes the fond so tasty? It is a chemical reaction known as the Maillard reaction, named after the French chemist who first described this reaction over 100 years ago. The Maillard reaction occurs when the amino acids in the meat proteins break down and the naturally occurring sugars are released when exposed to intense heat. This produces new flavor compounds which are then incorporated into the sauce once the fond has been dissolved. This flavorful sauce is then added as an accompaniment to the meats when served.
I am a saucy kind of girl, applicable in all ways, so I am always deglazing my pans and skillets to make sauces for my meats. Meat by itself is good, but meat when served with a sauce is always better. My latest saucy meat was breaded and pan-fried chicken with a wine, roasted pepper and garlic sauce. No surprise there though. I use wine and garlic for just about everything. I also use roasted peppers quite often too. I served it over penne pasta with some warmed ciabiatta on the side and of course, more white wine to help wet my whistle.
Breaded Chicken with Wine, Roasted Pepper and Garlic Sauce
1- 1 1/2b lbs chicken breast
butter and olive oil for cooking
1/3-1/2 cup flour
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp paprika
dash heavy whipping cream
1 TBSP garlic
1 onion, medium dice
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and diced medium
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1-2 TBSP sherry
2-3 TBSP butter
Combine the flour and salt & pepper. In a separate bowl, combine the egg and and cream. Wrap the chicken in plastic wrap, then with a meat tenderizer, pound the chicken into a thin piece, to about 1/4 inch in thickness. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, then coat it in the egg mixture. Shake off the excess liquid and dip the chicken into the flour mixture and coat it completely. Get a skillet very hot, add the olive oil and some butter and cook the chicken for about 5 minutes per side, or until crispy and golden brown. Once the chicken is done, remove it from the heat and set aside.
The fond for the sauce is next. Add the mushrooms, garlic, onions and paprika. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. I also added some of the flour mixture to thicken up the sauce a bit. This is optional.
Add the wine, chicken broth and roasted peppers and combine thoroughly. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the butter and the fresh thyme as a finish to the sauce.
When the sauce is ready, reheat the chicken by adding it to the sauce and let it heat thoroughly. Remove the chicken and slice it into thin strips. I served it over cooked penne pasta, but rice would work as well. I like to add a little sauce to the pasta first, then the chicken, and lastly I finish it with more sauce on top. I hate dry foods. Like I said, I like things saucy.
Life is much more fun when you make it saucy. Foods always taste better this way too. 🙂 May the new year keep you safe and keep you well. ‘Til next time.