This Pistachio-Stuffed Chicken with Parmesan Cream Sauce was relatively quick to pull together, but it had lovely, nuanced flavors from all the herbs and different liqueurs used, and made for a very elegant, restaurant-quality dish. We served it with a warm orzo and pesto salad for a perfect little dinner. I particularly liked that the recipe used both vermouth and grappa in it – all the alcohol cooks off, but the flavors remained distinct. It will definitely be a repeat dinner dish in our house, and I can’t wait to try.
Pistachio-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Parmesan Cream Sauce
- 1/4 c. milk
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- 1 thick slice white bread, crust removed
- 3 TBS olive oil
- 4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/4 c. dry vermouth
- 1/4 c. finely chopped roasted, salted pistachios
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 boneless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat
- 2 TBS grappa
- 1 c. chicken stock
- 1/4 c. heavy cream
- 3 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 TBS butter
- fleur de sel (or sea salt) for finishing
- chervil sprigs, for finishing (optional)
- In a small saucepan, heat milk with thyme, bay leaf, and garlic over medium heat, just until bubbles appear around the edge, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and strain into a shallow bowl. Add the bread and let stand for 10 minutes, turning once. Drain and squeeze dry, then finely chop and transfer to a medium bowl.
- In a medium frying pan, heat 1 TBS of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in vermouth and cook until nearly evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Scrape half of the shallots into the bowl with the bread, and add the chopped pistachios. Reserve the other half of the shallots for later.
- Using a sharp knife, cut a slit lengthwise into the side of each chicken breast. Use a spoon to stuff a few TBS of the bread and pistachio filling into the slit of each breast, and pinch together to seal.
- In a large frying pan, heat the remaining 2 TBS of olive oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or until hot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add to the hot pan and cook until browned, about 5 minutes on each side. Check to be sure chicken is cooked all the way through by cutting into the center of the fattest breast. However, try not to overcook the chicken as it will dry out fairly quickly. Remove the chicken breasts from the pan and set aside.
- Add the grappa to the reserved shallots in the medium frying pan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Very carefully tilt the pan and use a long match or lighter to ignite the vermouth. When the flames subside, add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer, cooking until reduced to half a cup , about 4-5 minutes. Add the heavy cream and simmer until reduced to half a cup, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese and butter until both are fully melted. Transfer to a blender and process until frothy.
- Ladle the sauce into the bottom of 4 bowls and top each with a piece of chicken. Finish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel and a few sprigs of chervil.