Sunday, September 2, 2018

Chicken with Tomatoes and Capers

Chicken, chicken, chicken, so many ways to cook chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the most tasteless pieces of meat that you can buy. We owe them the honor to the USDA’s emphasis on carbohydrates at the bottom of the food pyramid and the very occasional use of fat at the very tippy top.

What can we do to improve the taste of this bland food? Marinate it and/or cook it in a sauce. You can use a dry rub or wet marinade. BUT if you use an acid, such as; vinegar, lime or lemon juice or white wine DO NOT let it sit for more than two hours or the texture will become mushy instead of tender.

Another issue is dryness. When you cook a breast on the bone (with or without skin) it’s easier to keep it moist. Due to the odd shape of a chicken breast, with one end thicker than the other, the thinner end will cook faster and dry out.

Butterflying and pounding them into cutlets is one way to solve the problem. Another is to saute them then let them simmer in a sauce.

Here is a famous chefs way to sauté chicken breasts:

Basic Saute Procedure:
1) Heat a sauté pan until droplets of water immediately evaporate. Water evaporates at 212F/100C and protein products like chicken begin to cook (coagulate) at 165F/74C. So, our pan is hot enough.
2) Add barely enough fat to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. I prefer olive oil because of its flavor, high smoke point, and health benefits, but you can use any oil, butter, bacon fat, anything you’d like. This is usually only about 1-2 tablespoons. You are not deep frying!
3) Tilt and swirl the pan so that the oil covers the entire bottom of the pan.
4) Heat the oil until it begins a convection process. This is the indicator that the oil is just
about to smoke. You can tell when convection begins because the oil goes from looking perfectly smooth to being “striated”. The oil looks like “legs” running down the side of your wine glass.
5) Add your chicken breast to the pan. It should make a searing sound. The chicken breast will begin to turn white where proteins are coagulating. Cook the chicken until the white reaches 75% of the way up the side of the chicken. Turn the chicken breast over
6) Finish cooking the other side until a thermometer reads 155-165F/70-74C
7) Remove the chicken breast to a plate for carry-over cooking to 165F/74C.
8) Saute any vegetables or aromatics in the rendered brown bits (“Fond”) on the bottom ofthe pan.
9) “Deglaze” the pan. Adding a cold liquid will drop the temperature of the pan quickly and
dramatically and release any fond. Evaporate 1⁄2 of this liquid.
10) Add a thickening agent or flavored liquid for pan sauce
11) Mount with any seasonings or condiments
12) Return the chicken to the pan to heat through and combine with sauce.

This Chicken with Tomatoes and Capers serves 4 with a Total Time of  20 minutes.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
Salt and pepper, to taste 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
2 tablespoons butter 
6 tablespoons shallots or 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped 
2 teaspoons minced garlic 
4 teaspoons freshly chopped tarragon or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon 
8 ripe plum tomatoes or 1 28 oz can of tomatoes, drained and chopped 
1/4 cup red wine vinegar 
1/4 cup capers, drained 
1 cup day white wine 
2 tablespoons tomato paste 
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped 


  1. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil and butter in a heavy-bottom skillet. Add the chicken breasts and saute over medium-high heat, turning the pieces often until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the shallots and garlic around the chicken. Cook briefly; add the tarragon, tomatoes, vinegar, capers, wine and tomato paste. Stir to dissolve the brown particles adhering to the bottom of the skillet.
  3. Blend well, bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 9 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Yum Yum!

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