Can you keep a secret? I love upscale food, food with panache, but do you know what I love even more? Upscale food that can be made lickety-split. Like in less than an hour. This recipe for Pink Peppercorn Sherry Cream Chicken? 30 minutes, baby. Shhhhh. No one has to know.
When I first learned this method to cook boneless chicken breasts I was sure it would fail. I knew I would cut into the beautifully bronzed exterior, glistening with juice to find gross, purple raw meat. WRONG! It is the best way to cook boneless chicken breasts always leaving them tender, juicy and gorgeously seared on the outside at the hands of melted butter and a bit of salt and pepper.
It’s common that I’ll build an entire meal around one, off beat ingredient. A bit like buying a fab pair of shoes without anything else to wear with them and pulling together a fantastic outfit to showcase them. Being the Valentine season Pink Peppercorns have been on my radar. They are available in the spice aisle of several local grocery stores and I could not resist them any longer, loving pepper of all sorts and grinding my own peppercorns at home.
Pink Peppercorns are actually not part of the pepper family. Though the same size, they bear a sweet, gentle flavor that is only slightly peppery. They are a beautiful rosy color and add dimension and visual interest to more mild flavored dishes. I noted when cracking them their outer reddish pink color is actually a papery covering yielding a darker inner peppercorn. I love their sweet-pepper flavor and though feeling they are probably not strong enough to stand up to a steak for instance, they elevated the creamy sherry sauce adding dimension in flavor and visual interest. The dish tastes very elegant, yet approachable and no one would guess you whipped it up without some hours of effort! Perfect for Valentine’s Day, a dinner party or any meal where a touch of elegance is welcome!
Pink Peppercorn Sherry Cream Chicken
- 4 6- ounce boneless , skinless Chicken Breasts
- 4 tablespoons unsalted Butter
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly Ground Pepper
- 3 tablespoons Dry Sherry*
- ¼ cup Shallots , peeled and diced (equivalent to one extra large shallot)
- 2 teaspoons Flour (regular or gluten free)
- 2 tablespoons Pink Peppercorns
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees and when reached turn the oven off and keep it closed (this is to keep the chicken warm while you make the sauce).
- In a large skillet or casserole (with lid) over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle the salt and pepper on the chicken breasts. Lower heat to medium and place the chicken breasts in the pan for 2 ½ minutes (uncovered).
- Turn chicken to the opposite side and cook for 3 minutes (uncovered).
- Turn off the heat, cover the chicken and allow to sit for 8-10 minutes (if chicken breasts are larger allow to sit 10 minutes). Reserve the pan liquid. When time is up, wrap chicken in a piece of foil and place in the warmed oven while you complete the sauce.
- Pour out pan drippings, reserving 1 tablespoon.
- Crack the 2 tablespoons of pink peppercorns using the bottom of a heavy pan or skillet; press down on the pan forcing the peppercorns to crack. Crack them into small pieces.
- Heat the skillet or casserole used for cooking the chicken over medium-low heat and add sherry. Stirring constantly deglaze the pan with the sherry (free any cooking residuals by scraping the bottom of the pan while stirring the sherry). Approximately 2 minutes. _Note: do not use a high temperature because the sherry vapors can flame! _
- Add the diced shallot and stir constantly until the shallots soften (about 2 minutes). Stir in the flour to combine (about a minute); add the tablespoon of pan juices, cracked pink peppercorns and the cream. Stir or whisk to fully combine.
- Stir the sauce constantly over low heat until thickened; 5 minutes or less. When complete, place chicken on a serving platter or on individual plates, dress with the sauce and serve immediately.
*The alcohol content from the sherry will cook off though if you prefer you may substitute chicken broth.