Pan Seared Chicken with Chorizo Sauce

There are some pairings that just work in life to bring you joy.  Chocolate and roses, fireworks and a warm blanket, Chaz and Dave.  Among them, of course, is the brilliant pairing of chicken and chorizo.  While chicken is incredibly popular and largely considered quite versatile, it also comes with significant drawbacks – particularly its tendency to dry out and the fact that the flesh itself is somewhat bland.  While there are many ways to avoid these pitfalls, one of my favourite (and easiest) ways of avoiding it is chorizo.  The rich, saltiness and fat content of chorizo helps to counteract those qualities rather spectacularly.

This particular recipe utilises the fat of the chorizo to make the base of what is effectively an espagnole sauce – that is, one of the five mother sauces built upon a deep, rich, dark roux.  If that all sounds a bit intimidating, trust me it couldn’t be easier.  The entire thing comes together to leave you with a moist, flavourful chicken breast that paired incredibly with creamed spinach and sweet potato mash.  It really was quite special, and perfect for any date night you may have coming up.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 Chicken breasts
  • Splash of vegetable oil
  • 1 medium chorizo link, roughly 6 inches long, though scale up to your tastes
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 small glass white wine
  • Approx. 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat until shimmering.  Pat the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel then add to the pan – it will smoke and splutter, so a splash guard is advised.  Fry for 2 minutes on each side to form a nice brown crust, then remove to a casserole dish.
  2. Finely dice the chorizo as small as you can (leaving two thin, long slices to top the chicken) and add to the pan, setting the heat as low as it will go.  Allow the orange, flavourful oils to render out of the chorizo until the pieces start to crisp up, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon, leaving the oils behind, and add the pieces to the chicken.
  3. Finely dice the onion and add to the pan with a sprinkling of salt.  Keep the heat low and stir regularly, allowing the moisture of the onion to collect the brown bits of the pan.  When the onion has softened (5 minutes or so) add the thinly sliced garlic and cook for a further minute.
  4. Add the butter and turn up the heat slightly.  Once it has melted, sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine.  Continue stirring frequently as this cooks.  It will gradually turn golden, then golden-brown, then brown and will appear to thin out.  Don’t leave it for more than a few seconds or it may catch and burn.  This mixture (the fat and flour cooked together) is called a roux, and it needs to be the colour of a hot chocolate for a really good espagnole.
  5. Add the wine, a splash at a time, stirring continually as you go so it doesn’t get lumpy.  Once the wine is all in, cook for a minute or two, then pour in the stock and add the thyme.  Bring to a simmer and cook for at least 5 minutes, adding water if it appears to thick.  Ideally make it slightly thinner than you want the finished sauce, as it will cook in the oven.
  6. Pour over the chicken, topping the chicken with the thinly sliced chorizo.  Cook for 20 minutes in the oven.  After that, remove it and leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving.  Be sure that the inside of the thickest part of the breast is white with clear juices.  To serve, spoon some of the sauce on the plate, then top with the chicken, with a small drizzle of more sauce.

 

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