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Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Bitter Orange Sauce

Here, orange marmalade is the base for a simple glaze-like sauce. It offers its sweet, yet pleasingly bitter, orange flavor and adds texture and body. Oranges are layered into the dish in a few other guises—sweet segments and juice, fiery liqueur and aromatic zest—with each element contributing to the heady citrus essence.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large navel oranges 
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each about 6 oz.  
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste 
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste 
  • 2 Tbs. peanut or grapeseed oil 
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter 
  • 1 shallot, minced 
  • 2 Tbs. orange-flavored liqueur 
  • 1/2 cup bitter orange marmalade 
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth or stock 
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar 

Directions:

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from 1 orange in strips. Using a chef’s knife, cut the strips into very thin shreds and set aside. Cut a slice off the top and bottom of the orange. Stand the orange upright and, following the contour of fruit, slice off the remaining peel and pith. Working over a bowl, cut along both sides of each segment to free it from the membrane; let the segments and juice fall into the bowl. Squeeze the juice from the membrane into the bowl. Repeat with the second orange, omitting the removal of the zest.

Using a flat meat pounder, pound each chicken breast half until flattened to an even thickness of about 3/4 inch. Season the chicken on both sides with the 1 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. pepper.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil until very hot but not smoking. Add the chicken, reduce the heat to medium and cook until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook until browned on the other side and the chicken springs back when pressed in the center, about 4 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to low, add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Add the shallot and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the liqueur. Using a long-handled match, light the liqueur and let the flame burn for 30 seconds, then cover the pan to extinguish the flame. Uncover, return the pan to medium-high heat and stir in the marmalade, broth and vinegar. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. During the last 30 seconds, add the orange segments and juice and heat through. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter. Spoon the sauce and orange segments over the top and garnish with the zest shreds. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

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