Creativity is a bit like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger you become. I have always been the creative thinker. I was a really imaginative kid and sometimes growing up it was a good thing and sometimes if I am honest, it made me feel a bit different. Over time, I have grown more confident in my “out of the box” thinking and I have found ways the channel all of that creative energy. One of my favorite things to do is to develop new recipes, and I think the discipline of having a blog has been good for my cooking. It grounds me and helps me focus and think more about important practical matters like measurements and instructions.
This chicken dish was something that I began cooking up in my mind when I read an article about a roasted leg of lamb with apricots and thyme. Roasting takes time and let’s face it lamb can be expensive. I liked the idea of the flavor combination of apricots and thyme, and I wanted to make a dish that was easy enough to serve on a weeknight. So I began thinking about doing a French style sauce with chicken, apricots and thyme. When am working on a new recipe I usually make it at least three times before I will share the recipe on the blog. I like to test different ingredients and make sure that I have all the measurements correct. When I was making this dish I tried it with fresh apricots, but I found that I liked it better with the slightly sweeter dried apricots. Sometimes it just takes time and really working through an idea to get all the details right. So here is my latest creation chicken with apricots and thyme in a delicious white wine pan sauce.
Chicken with Apricots and Thyme
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 3 TBSP of butter (divided)
- 3 TBSP of olive oil (divided)
- 1/3 cup finely chopped shallot (about 1 medium sized shallot)
- 2 Tsp of fresh thyme
- 1/4 Tsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup cream
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 1 cup of dried apricots sliced in half lengthwise
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
First, get your ingredients prepped because when you begin putting the sauce together the cooking goes quickly so you will want to have everything on hand. Start by finely chopping your shallots. Shallots have a lighter and slightly sweeter flavor than onions so they work well in this dish. Next, slice your dried apricots in half. I like to slice mine lengthwise so that when they cook in the pan, they puff up a bit in the sauce, and then they look like fresh apricot slices. The trick with fresh thyme is to run two pinched fingers down the sprig (top down). The leaves will fall right off and you don’t have to chop a thing.
Next, season your chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Then get a large skillet ready by melting 2 TBSP of butter and add in 2 TBSP of oil over medium heat. Then once the pan is hot and the butter is melted, add your chicken to the pan to brown it on each side. I cook my chicken for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side till it is golden brown. Don’t worry about cooking it through at this point because you are going to return the chicken to the pan to finish cooking it in the sauce.
Once the chicken is browned on each side remove it to a plate and then add in your remaining 1 TBSP of butter and oil. Next, add in your shallots and cook them on medium low heat till they are slightly translucent (about a minute or so). Then deglaze your pan with the shallots in it by pouring in 3/4 cup of white wine. Cook the wine a minute being sure to get all of the delicious brown bits on the bottom of the pan mixed in. Then whisk in your dijon mustard and when the mustard is fully whisked in, add your apricots, cream and thyme and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Then return your chicken breasts to the pan and cover your skillet part way with a lid. Then let your chicken cook all the way through on medium low heat flipping them once or twice. I had medium sized chicken breasts and they took 8 minutes to cook all the way. While the chicken is cooking the sauce will thicken and the apricots with plump up in the sauce.
I like to serve this dish with Uncle Ben’s wild rice. Alternatively, it would also go well with mashed potatoes. The sauce is particularly delicious so it is good to serve it with something that you can pour a bit of the sauce on as well. This recipe serves four but you could easily double it and brown the chicken in two batches if you are serving it for more.