Nigel Slater’s recipe for chicken with marsala and crème fraîche

The recipe
Lightly season 2 plump chicken breasts. Warm 3 tbsp of olive oil in a shallow pan, add 40g of butter and, when it melts, add the 2 breasts, skin side down.

Keeping the heat fairly low so that the butter bubbles lazily, leave the chicken breasts to cook for 10 minutes. Baste the meat regularly and check its progress, turning the breasts over when the skin is golden. Remove them from the pan and keep warm under foil or an upturned bowl.

Pour 100ml of marsala, white wine or vermouth into the pan and turn up the heat. Let the wine bubble and reduce to 3 or 4 tbsp, then stir in 125g of crème fraîche. As the mixture bubbles, stir in 1 tbsp of grainy mustard and the same of smooth dijon.

Slice in half 12 cornichons and add them to the pan together with 2 tsp of small capers. Stir in a small bunch of parsley, finely chopped. Add in a squeeze of lemon juice then return the chicken breasts to the pan and serve with salad. Enough for 2.

The trick
The way to success here is by keeping a careful eye on the temperature. If the butter and oil get too hot, they will burn and leave you nothing interesting with which to make the accompanying sauce. Watch the chicken’s progress, lowering the heat as necessary to cook it through without burning the butter. Cover with a lid if it appears to be cooking too quickly.

The twist
You could make this dish with small pieces of chicken instead of a breast and use it as a pasta sauce. There is no reason why you shouldn’t introduce a handful of halved button mushrooms with the chicken. A couple of tbsp of chopped tarragon leaves, added when you introduce the crème fraîche, is a fine variation.