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Cremini-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Porcini Pan Sauce

Dried porcini mushrooms have a heady, intensely savory aroma. With such a concentrated earthy, meaty quality, porcinis deliver a huge flavor dividend. In this recipe, they combine with fresh cremini mushrooms to make a satisfying stuffing for chicken breasts, and their soaking liquid is the base for a light-bodied but full-flavored sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. (1 cup lightly packed) dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed 
  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water 
  • 1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped 
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter 
  • 1 shallot, minced  
  • 3 tsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme 
  • Kosher salt, to taste, plus 1 tsp.  
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp. 
  • 4 boneless, skin-on chicken breast halves, each about 10 oz.  
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 Tbs. Madeira or dry Marsala 
  • 1/2 tsp. cornstarch, mixed with 1 Tbs. cold water   

Directions:

In a bowl, soak the porcini in the boiling water until softened, about 20 minutes. Lift out the porcini and coarsely chop. Pour the soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with damp cheesecloth and set aside. In a food processor, combine the cremini and porcini mushrooms and pulse until finely chopped.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the finely chopped mushrooms and sauté until they give off their juices and the juices evaporate, 8 to 10 minutes. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, stir in the shallot, 2 tsp. of the parsley and 1 tsp. of the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 425°F.

Season the chicken breasts with the 1 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. pepper. Slip your fingers under the skin of each breast to loosen it, keeping the skin attached at one long side. Spoon one-fourth of the mushroom mixture under the skin of each breast and spread it evenly with your fingers. Place the stuffed breasts, skin side up, in a roasting pan and brush with the olive oil. Roast until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 160°F, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a carving board and cover loosely with aluminum foil.

To make the sauce, pour off the fat in the pan. Place the pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Pour in the reserved mushroom liquid and the Madeira and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Boil until reduced to about 2/3 cup. Stir the cornstarch mixture to recombine, then add to the pan and cook just until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 seconds. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Cut each chicken breast across the grain into slices 1/2 inch thick and place on a warmed plate. Spoon some of the sauce over each serving, and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and thyme. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2008).