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Sautéed Chicken Breast with Shallot and Cider

One skillet chicken recipes are a saving grace, and this one for how to sauté chicken breast with shallot and cider is on tonight’s menu!

Two chicken breasts sliced in half lengthwise will yield four healthy servings of this autumn inspired sauté. Shallots, apple cider, fresh thyme, and chicken stock reduce to create a sweet and savory pan sauce that resonates with kids as much as it does adults.

Serve over cornmeal polenta with a generous serving of the pan sauce atop, or alongside a salad or other favorite starch. Pour yourself a little white wine and wait for these juicy chicken breasts to become “one with your palette” as you indulge.

With gratitude and appreciation, this recipe courtesy of our friends at Brazzi Trattoria in Manahawkin, New Jersey. Yes, Yankee fodder! Every now and then, this Jersey Girl NEEDS to go home…

close up photo of chicken cutlet reduced with cider

All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC

What Is the Best Way to Sauté Chicken Breast?

1. Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
2. Season both sides of thinly pounded chicken breasts or cutlets with Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper.
3. If coating your chicken, do so before placing them in the pan.
4. Cook, undisturbed until firm to the touch, about 3-4 minutes per side.
5. Turn only once and repeat until firm to the touch.
6. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Sautéed Chicken Breast with Shallot and Cider

The best way to capitalize on the season while saving yourself some stress around what to make for dinner, is to focus on those single-skillet chicken breast recipes that save time. I’m talking sauté chicken breast and be done fast. And just one pan, well that works for me pretty much always.

Leave it to a chef from Jersey, my home state, to come up with a pure delicious genius chicken breast recipe. Apple cider, chicken cutlet, and cheesy polenta…down here, we call ’em grits…this dish leaves no room for boring.

What You’ll Need to Sauté Chicken Breast with Shallot and Cider

  • olive oil
  • a large egg
  • Italian style breadcrumbs
  • boneless skinless chicken breasts (whole chicken breasts)
  • shallots
  • apple cider, not apple juice
  • chicken broth or stock, homemade if you have it
  • fresh thyme
  • red pepper flakes
  • salted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • coarse stone ground yellow or white polenta or grits, not instant
  • heavy cream
  • any freshly grated hard cheese or dollop of a soft cheese such as goat cheese or Boursin
a white plate and napking, with sauteed chicken breast

Would you believe me if I told you that I assembled this simple recipe in 30 minutes using all simple ingredients? I promise I did; I just kept this chicken recipe moving and shaking in a hot pan over medium-high heat until it was golden brown and hit an internal temperature of around 155°F at which point I focused on reducing the sauce. Total cooking time on the chicken was about 7 minutes.

For the best results, I removed the nearly cooked cutlets from my large skillet to a plate and allowed the cider to reduce along with all those gorgeous browned bits by just about half. Total cooking time on the sauce was about 15 minutes.

Then I added the cutlets back into the skillet in the sauce to finish cooking until my instant-read screamed 165°F. Finito.

The great thing about this method is that I can be working on perfecting that creamy, cheesy polenta (that’s grits for all of us below the Mason Dixon Line!) while the chicken not only cooks through, but also hastens the continued thickening of the sauce. And folks, the sauce is absolutely ELEGANT.

How to Sauté Chicken Breast with Shallot and Cider

Kitchen Equipment

For this method, you need a heavy skillet. It needs to be a large enough pan to allow the chicken to cook evenly and may even be a large nonstick skillet or a cast iron pan if you don’t own Clad.

You’ll also need any one of a hundred different decent brands of digital meat thermometers to monitor the temperature of your chicken. I’ve sourced a few which get good ratings just below. Grab a wire whisk and a sturdy medium sized saucepan for the polenta.

Prep the Chicken

Begin with boneless chicken breasts patted dry between paper towels. Lay the chicken breast on a flat surface. Using a large, sharp kitchen knife, place one hand atop the chicken to keep it in place and cut the breast lengthwise with the other.

Separate the halves and repeat with the second breast. Place the chicken cutlets between two sheets of film and use the flat side of a meat mallet to flatten the chicken to about 1/2-inch give or take. Sprinkle both sides with Kosher salt and black pepper.

Assemble Italian Style Cutlets

Lightly beat an egg in a pie dish. In a second pie dish, pour in about a cup of breadcrumbs.

ProTip: if you want to add lots of flavor to the cutlets other than seasoned breadcrumbs, there is room for modification. Consider adding small amount(s) of the following to the breadcrumbs before coating the chicken.

  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • fresh herbs, or
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Using one hand, grab a cutlet, dip both sides in the egg and let the excess drip back into the pie dish. Next, dredge both sides of the egg-coated cutlet in the breadcrumbs, pressing the breadcrumbs into the coating so most of it will stick.

Place on a wire metal rack like a cooling rack. You want to coax air to circulate all around the coated chicken breast, in effect, slightly drying it out. Now you’re ensuring a crispy coating which will really showcase the rich sauce later in the recipe.

hands, cutting chicken breasts

Sauté Chicken Breast

Pounded thin, boneless, skinless chicken breast halves cook into a rich dish in no time flat. The flavor in the dish is in both the fond that accumulates in the bottom of the pan as the chicken sears and a blast of fresh herbs that hit the pan as the sauce reduces.

To your skillet, add olive oil and heat to shimmer. Add the cutlets to the pan without crowding.

Allow the cutlets to sear undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes before flipping. Use a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast to get a temperature read. You’re looking for around 155°F.

Remove the cutlets carefully so as not to dislodge your gorgeous golden-brown exterior and put on a plate. I like to cover the plate with aluminum foil while I work on the cider and shallot herb sauce.

apple cider, with apples

Make the Cider Sauce

In the same pan you sauteed the chicken, add about a tablespoon of additional olive oil if the pan is looking dry. Bring to a shimmer over medium heat.

Add the shallots all at once and reduce the heat slightly. You are looking for at first translucency, about 2-3 minutes, then a light golden color, NOT a fried shallot.

Since apple cider is refrigerated, rather than hitting the pan with cold liquid, I prefer to first heat the cider just to lukewarm. Do this in the microwave at 30-second intervals or in a small saucepan, your choice.

Add the warmed cider to the shallots and increase the heat to medium-high, being sure to use the back of your spoon to scrape up any and all fond that has accumulated on the bottom of the skillet.

diced shallots, in a hot pan

Season the Sauce

Add some chicken stock, fresh thyme, and a healthy pinch of Kosher salt and black pepper. I also went in with some heat, about a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes, but you can certainly add to taste.

Reduce the heat to medium, add in a tablespoon of salted butter to give the sauce some sheen, and cook to reduce by about half stirring frequently. I reduced a little less than half because in the end, I wanted more sauce.

cooked polenta, with dry cornmeal

Make the Polenta

Add some olive oil and a tablespoon of salted butter to a small saucepan and heat. Next add some chopped shallots and cook until golden, about 3-4 minutes.

Add in the dry polenta all at once and hit the pan with chicken stock, whisking vigorously. You may need to add additional stock as the polenta cooks if it appears it’s dry or you are having trouble whisking. Remember though, we want it thick, just not too thick.

At this point, a touch of heavy cream, another tablespoon of butter, and some salt and pepper will nicely season the polenta. You’re not done though until you’ve grated some Parmesan cheese right into the hot cornmeal mixture. TASTE FOR SEASONING AND ADD IF REQUIRED.

ProTip: don’t stop at grated Parmesan if you feel like you need more umpf. Consider adding in:

  • a dollop of Boursin Garlic & Herb
  • a couple tablespoons of herbed goat cheese
  • freshly grated Beemster or other nutty hard cheese

Blanket the Chicken

Gently transfer each cutlet to the warm sauce. Add all juices that accumulated on the plate to the sauce. Use a wide spoon to spoon some of the cider reduction over the chicken, reduce the heat to low, and cover.

Using your instant-read thermometer, recheck the temperature of the thickest part of each breast after just a few minutes. You are looking for 165°F.

close up photo of chicken cutlet reduced with cider

Plating Up

Ladle a healthy serving of polenta onto a plate. Place a single perfect cutlet atop and slightly askew the polenta.

We want to see that rich, golden ‘corn miracle’ beneath the chicken. It’s the PERFECT teaser. Now use a wide spoon to hit the dish with heaps of pan sauce.

I like to offer fresh Parmesan tableside and garnish with additional fresh thyme. Prepare your favorite salad and dinner is served.

featured image for How to Saute Chicken Breast with Shallot and Cider

Sautéed Chicken Breast with Shallot and Cider

Jenny from Not Entirely Average
One skillet chicken recipes are a saving grace, and this one for how to sauté chicken breast with shallot and cider is on tonight's menu!
No ratings yet
Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Northern
Servings 4 servings
Calories 704 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

for the chicken

  • 2 very large boneless, skinless chicken breasts rinsed and pat dry between paper towles
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

for the shallot cider sauce

  • 3 large shallots rough chopped
  • 3 cups apple cider NOT apple juice; warmed to lukewarm temperature
  • 1 cup chicken stock homemade if you have some
  • 2 tablespoons thyme fresh; destemmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

for the creamy polenta

  • 1 cup cornmeal polenta NOT instant or quick cooking
  • 1 large shallot diced fine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter divided
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

optional

  • 1 -2 tablespoons Boursin cheese or flavored goat cheese

Instructions
 

for the chicken

  • Lay one chicken breast on a flat surface. Using a large, sharp kitchen knife, place one hand atop the chicken to keep it in place and cut the breast lengthwise with the other. Repeat with second chicken breast.
  • Separate the halves and place between two sheets of plastic film. Use the flat side of a meat mallet to flatten the chicken to about 1/2-inch. Sprinkle both sides with Kosher salt and black pepper.
  • Lightly beat an egg in a pie dish. In a second pie dish, pour in about a cup of breadcrumbs. Using one hand, grab a cutlet, dip both sides in the egg and let the excess drip back into the pie dish. Next, dredge both sides of the egg-coated cutlet in the breadcrumbs, pressing the breadcrumbs into the coating. Place on a wire metal rack like a cooling rack and let stand 2-3 minutes.
  • To a large heavy skillet, add olive oil and heat to shimmer. Add the cutlets to the pan being careful not to crowd. Allow the cutlets to sear undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes before flipping. Use a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast to get a temperature read. You're looking for around 155°F.
  • Remove the cutlets carefully to a plate. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

for the shallot cider sauce

  • In the same pan you sauteed the chicken, add a tablespoon of additional olive oil if the pan is looking dry. Bring to a shimmer over medium heat. Add the shallots and reduce the heat slightly. You are looking for at first translucency, about 2-3 minutes, then a light golden color, about 4-5 minutes, but definitely NOT a fried shallot.
  • Warm the cider in the microwave at 30-second intervals until lukewarm to the touch. Add the warm cider to the shallots and increase the heat to medium-high. Use the back of your spoon to scrape up the fond that has accumulated on the bottom of the skillet. Add chicken stock, fresh thyme, red pepper flakes, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium, add in a tablespoon of salted butter, and cook to reduce by about half stirring frequently.

for the creamy polenta

  • Add olive oil and a tablespoon of salted butter to a small saucepan and heat. Next add diced shallots and cook until golden, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add in the dry polenta all at once immediately followed by the chicken stock, whisking vigorously. You may need to add additional stock as the polenta cooks if it appears it's dry or you are having trouble whisking. Remember though, we want it thick, just not too thick. Add the heavy cream, butter, Kosher salt, black pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese whisking as you incorporate. TASTE FOR SEASONING AND ADD IF REQUIRED. Optional: add a tablespoon or more to taste of a flavor goat cheese or Boursin and whisk into the polenta until melted.

blanket the chicken

  • Gently transfer each cutlet to the warm sauce. Add all juices that accumulated on the plate to the sauce. Use a wide spoon to spoon some of the cider reduction over the chicken, reduce the heat to low, and cover. Using your instant-read thermometer, recheck the temperature of the thickest part of each breast after just a few minutes. You are looking for 165°F.

to plate this dish

  • Ladle a healthy serving of polenta onto a plate. Place a single perfect cutlet atop and slightly askew the polenta. We want to see that rich, golden 'corn miracle' beneath the chicken. It's the PERFECT teaser. Now use a wide spoon to hit the dish with heaps of pan sauce. I like to offer fresh Parmesan tableside and garnish with additional fresh thyme. Prepare your favorite salad and dinner is served.

Notes

Please Note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not use table salt or iodized salt in any of the recipes you find on Not Entirely Average UNLESS specified otherwise.
Substitute fresh chopped sage for the thyme if preferred. 
Make Ahead by 1 day by cutting and pounding the chicken to 1/2-inch thick. Coat in the egg and breadcrumbs and place into a parchment-lined airtight container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate until ready to sauté. The pan sauce and polenta are not successful made ahead and reheated.
Store Leftovers in a parchment-lined airtight container with a tight-fitting lid. Reheat over low, gentle heat in a sauté pan or microwave.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 704kcalCarbohydrates: 65gProtein: 20gFat: 41gSaturated Fat: 19gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 1992mgPotassium: 721mgFiber: 3gSugar: 26gVitamin A: 1233IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 285mgIron: 4mg
Keyword chicken, one pan, saute
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