A lovely low-carb dinner recipe for chicken breasts in a creamy buttery sauce. Serve with your favourite vegetables
8 free-range, deboned, skinless chicken breasts
salt and milled black pepper
5 large red juicy tomatoes
boiling water, for skinning the tomatoes
3 Tbsp (45 ml) salted butter
2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
1 small clove garlic, peeled and finely crushed or grated
1½ tsp (7.5 ml) good quality concentrated chicken stock, such as a Nomu Fond or Knorr Chicken Stock Pot
1 cup (250 ml) cream
10 big fresh basil leaves
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Trim any globules of fat from the chicken breasts, place on a board and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Put the tomatoes into a big bowl and cover them with boiling water. Set aside for 3-4 minutes, or until you see their skins begin to wrinkle and split.
In the meantime, heat the butter and olive oil over a high heat in a large shallow pan big enough to fit all the chicken breasts in a single layer.
When the butter stops foaming, add the breasts, smooth side down, turn down the heat to medium-low and gently fry them in their buttery bath for 3-4 minutes, or until their undersides are a light golden colour, but the breasts are still completely raw on top. Don’t allow them to brown or burn – if the butter is anywhere near darkening, turn the heat right down. When they look as if they’ve cooked halfway through, remove from the pan and pile them onto a plate. Set aside.
Pull the wrinkly skin off the tomatoes and discard. Carve out the dots on the stalk ends and slice each one in half. Place a bowl on your countertop and, holding each tomato half above the bowl, remove the seeds and pulp, letting these drop into the bowl. It’s easiest to do this with your fingers.
Slice the outer parts of the tomatoes into a fine dice, and place these little pieces in a sieve set over the bowl containing the tomato pulp. Drain for a few minutes, then set aside in a bowl (you’ll add these bits to the sauce at the end).
Gently reheat the oil/butter mixture in the pan and add the crushed garlic. Cook over a low heat for 30-60 seconds, without letting the garlic brown. Now hold your sieve over the pot, and into it tip the contents of the bowl containing the tomato pulp and juices. Press down hard with the back of a soup ladle – or your fist – to extract every bit of juice. Discard the remaining pulp.
Add the concentrated chicken stock and bring the butter/tomato juice mixture to a brisk simmer. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for a minute. Now stir in the cream, a splash at a time. It’s important to do this slowly – and off the heat – to prevent your sauce from curdling.
Return the pan to the heat and bubble over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. The sauce will soon thicken slightly, with the bubbles in the centre getting bigger and lazier. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, uncooked side down, along with the golden juices that have collected beneath them.
Simmer, uncovered, for about 4 minutes, or until the chicken pieces are just cooked through, but still very tender and succulent.
While the chicken is cooking, cut the basil leaves into fine shreds. It’s easiest to do this by stacking four or five leaves together, rolling them up into a tight ‘cigar’, then slicing them very finely crossways.
When the chicken is done, stir in the reserved diced tomato flesh and the shredded basil.
Add a spritz of lemon juice – just enough to give the sauce a slight pleasant acidity – and stir. Serve immediately with steamed veggies.
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Recipe and photo copyright – Jane-Anne Hobbs. See more recipes at her delicious food blog: www.scrumptious.co.za