I do go on about pan sauces, I know that. But it is kind of my job to offer suggestions about what to cook (it is in fact my job) and it’s kind of my job to try and make your life in the kitchen easier (it is also in fact my job). And pan sauces are simply one of the greatest ways to get a piece of food (e.g. chicken breast, pieces of salmon, pork chop) from boring to not–at-all boring in the shortest amount of time possible.
And after the selected food has cooked—in part or completely—that’s when the pan sauce starts. And you can use any liquid to deglaze a pan, but the liquid of choice is really wine. And not just any wine. Good wine. The kind of wine that you drink (Don’t you dare even pause in the market and glance at the “Cooking Wine” on top of the shelf. That is some sort of not quite vinegar substance pretending to be wine.
Some of my favorite wines are distributed under the Terlato label, an importer-distributor that produces and carries some terrific wines from all over, but Italy is one of their sweetest spots. I am a big fan of pinot grigio in general, and theirs is great – crisp and clean and highly drinkable with all kinds of food from Salmon with Polenta and Warm Tomato Vinaigrette to Simple Ramp Pasta…. Or just a bowl of popcorn on the couch.
You may have heard the kitchen adage that you should only cook with wines that you want to drink. That is 100% true. In the cooking you will burn off most of the actual alcohol, but the flavor will remain to season the dish, and that’s why you should be a fan of the wine in your glass first, then in the dish.
Also, unless you are making something like coq au vin for a big crowd, you will likely not be using an entire bottle of wine in one dish.
So, because it’s one of my favorite wines to drink, it is also one of my favorite wines to cook with. In this particular pan sauce, there is quite a bit of wine, which lends a very sophisticated and nuanced flavor to the sauce. Again, most of the alcohol disappears as it simmers and reduces, but it’s one of the central ingredients in the sauce.
The start of the sauce is a bit old pie of leeks, one of my favorite vegetables—I definitely treat them more like a vegetable than just an aromatic here; they share the spotlight with the pinot grigio.
Then the wine hits the pan, releases all of those gorgeous brown bits of leeks and chicken that may have stuck to the pan. The wine is supplemented by some broth to soften the sauce, and handfuls of come of my favorite chopped lettuces wilt away in the sauce. A little lemon, a pat of butter, and you have a rich and savory sauce that’s more like a topping for the chicken.
I would serve this over rice or couscous with some crusty pieces of baguette (maybe even this Roasted Tomato and Garlic Bread) to sop up all of that deliciousness.
More Pan Sauce Recipes:
- How to Make a Pan Sauce
- Grits with Chicken and Tomatillo, Green Chili, and Sour Cream Pan Sauce
- Chicken with Arugula and Mustard Pan Sauce
- Chicken with Tomato and Leek Pan Sauce with Jasmine Rice
Terlato sponsored this blog post, but all thoughts and opinions are my very own.
Chicken with White Wine, Leek, Spinach and Arugula Pan Sauce
- 4 8 ounce boneless chicken breasts
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 leeks sliced (white and light green parts only)
- 1 cup dry white wine such as Terlato Pinot Grigio
- ¾ cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup roughly chopped arugula
- 1 cup roughly chopped spinach
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken breasts and sauté until done, about 4 to 5 minute on each side (click here for more detailed directions and a video). Remove the chicken breasts to a plate and set aside; tent them with foil to keep them warm. Do not wipe out the skillet!
- Add the leeks to the skillet and sauté over medium high heat for 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly tender. Add the white wine and stir to scrape up all the little flavorful bits that may be stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Simmer for about 2 minutes until the wine reduces by half. Add in the broth, and return to a simmer, stirring occasionally for another 4 minutes until the mixture reduces slightly, by about a third (this is not a precise science. Add the arugula and spinach, stir until they start to wilt, and then add the lemon juice and butter, and stir until the butter is melted and the arugula and spinach are wilted.
- You can slice the chicken breasts or leaves them whole. Transfer them to individual plates and spoon the vegetables and sauce over the sauce over the chicken breasts. You can also sliced them all up and serve them with the sauce spooned over on a serving platter.
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