Today, I found myself gazing at my computer screen, looking at recipes instead of studying. I feel that this is a common pastime for us all, whether it’s recipes or facebook or videogames, etc. Since my guilty pleasure is cooking and feeding others, this was the perfect distraction from studying for economics.
Not that I don’t like economics or anything…
Anywho, as I was traversing the multitudes of recipes available online, I was struck by inspiration. For years, I’ve wanted to try cooking with wine, as I understand it gives a very tangy, succulent taste to the meal when reduced in a sauce. Note: Reduction is a process in cooking whereby you cook a sauce (ie, wine, vinegar, etc) in a saucepan and let the water evaporate out of it, making it thicker. This intensifies the flavor and makes it more syrupy in texture. You can read more about it here.
My inspiration led to me to try it out. I cut a piece of chicken breast in half, got out a pan, a bottle of red wine (I recommend something sweeter because it has all the kick of red wine, but will really sweeten out when you reduce it), and got to experimenting. Below is my attempt:
Start by putting about 2 tbspns of oil in a pan (on medium high heat). Mince 2-4 cloves of garlic in there. I LOVE GARLIC, so you will always find me putting far more than the recipe calls for, but that’s just me. Stir the garlic, cooking for only a minute or two. When I was a little girl, my maternal grandmother would always cook with garlic and my paternal grandmother always used onions. I guess that’s why they are my favorite starting ingredients for any recipe!
I also recommend adding some chopped onions to this recipe. It will give another depth of flavor to the sauce. Once the onions are translucent, we add chicken!
Add the chicken, searing it on both sides. Searing is the process of cooking just the outsides of a piece of meat (usually) at a higher temperature so that the “crusts” or “sides” will carmelize and turn a beautiful color. You can read more about it here. Remember, searing only takes a matter of seconds on each side, so don’t cook too long! The inside of the meat, however, will still be uncooked. After searing the chicken, sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of brown sugar over the chicken pieces. This is going to help to sweeten the reduction.
This is the red wine that I used. It was left behind at my apartment, so it seemed a perfect use of the last bits of wine. This wine had a nice fruity flavor to it, so I thought it would reduce well. You are going to pour out about 1-2 cups of it AROUND THE CHICKEN. It will start to bubble, so make sure to reduce the temperature to a low simmer so that nothing burns. Cover the chicken, periodically spooning the red wine mixture over the chicken.
You will probably cook the chicken for about 10 minutes this way. I recommend checking after 5-7 minutes by making a small incision in the thickest part of the chicken. If it is not pink anymore, it’s ready! While this may not be the prettiest way to check the chicken, it sure is the best way I’ve found to avoid food poisoning!
Once the chicken is done, and the wine has reduced to a cloudier, thicker sauce, you can plate and eat! I recommend pairing this with some fried polenta, or green beans, or asparagus! Yum!
As always, try to drink some of the wine you used while eating it (if over 21, of course). This helps to fully envelope you in the flavors of the sauce and the wine! Now I’m just getting too fancy! Haha.