Chicken with Tomato and Leek Pan Sauce with Jasmine Rice
A summery pan sauce turns a package of chicken breasts into a colorful quick dinner.Katie Workman chicken, leek, pan sauce, tomato
Serving Size: 4 to 6 (1 to 2 cutlets per person)
This is a shiny example of how a pan-sauce can save the day, or at least save you from another night of chicken cutlet boredom. Knowing how to make a pan sauce is a serious cooking life skill, up there with making good eggs of some kind, and roasting a chicken.
One of the biggest apprehensions many people have with cooking is how to get everything ready at the same time. In terms of timing, you should start the rice, then move on to cooking the chicken while the rice simmers.
You could start the rice and even have time to make a quick green salad with vinaigrette first, and then while the rice continues to simmer (and then sit) cook the chicken. This will give you an actual 30 minute meal, which is the gold standard for a full-on weekday dinner with all of the components covered: main course, side starch, and something vegetable.
Sometimes it’s preferable to serve up everything in large serving bowls and plates and let everyone help themselves, and sometimes it’s easier to plate up individual portions in the kitchen. The former lets everyone take just what they want. The latter saves having to wash serving bowls. There are advantages to each. You decide.
You can add a whole lot more tomatoes if you like, and you could even add twice as many leeks, which would make the tomato and leek pan sauce into a bit more of a vegetable compote than a simple sauce. Increasing the amount of vegetables could even allow you to skip the salad, and still get full servings of vegetables into the dish.
My kids will eat some of the tomato and leek mixture, though it’s really about the chicken and the pan sauce for them. Plus we are all salad folk, and we all still want a salad, so I keep the tomatoes and leeks on the sparser side.
You can either buy thin sliced chicken cutlets, or pound them yourself. Pounding them out yourself is a bit more work, though at times immensely satisfying, and will save you money. However, thin sliced chicken breasts will usually look neater and tidier than breasts you have whacked at with a rolling pin. Again, choices to be made, with no wrong answers.
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 2 ¼ cups water
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- Kosher salt to taste
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 6 thin-sliced chicken cutlets 1 ½ pounds total
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 leeks white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and washed
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon minced thyme leaves
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- 1 cup less-sodium chicken broth
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Place the rice, water, 1 teaspoon butter, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and continue to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, leaving it covered, and set it sit for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the rice before transferring to a serving bowl.
- While the rice is cooking, season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a a very large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add three of the chicken pieces and cook until golden brown and almost cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and repeat with the remaining oil and the remaining 3 cutlets. Tent the plate of cutlets with foil to keep them warm while you make the sauce.
- Return the skillet, without cleaning it, to medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic, and sauté for 4 minutes, until the leeks start to become tender. Stir in the tomatoes and thyme and cook for another minute until the tomatoes start to soften. Add the white wine, (the alcohol will burn off in the cooking process, so it’s fine for kids), and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer, and cook for about 4 minutes, until the liquid reduces by about half.
- Add the slightly undercooked chicken to the pan and let the pieces simmer to finish cooking, 2 to 3 minutes. Place the chicken on a serving plate, or individual plates, and add the lemon juice and the remaining tablespoon of the butter to the pan and stir until the butter is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken, and serve the sauced chicken with the hot rice.