The cooks of the Burgundian town of Chablis, famous for its white wine, like to cook meats in a rich white wine sauce with juniper and shallots. I tried it one day with chicken breasts, great winter fare!

Serves 4

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper 300ml/1⁄2 pint/1¼ cups chicken stock, more if needed

For the Sauce:

  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries. 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 250ml/8fl oz/1 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 shallots or 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons tomato purée/paste
  • 3-4 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Split the chicken breasts horizontally into two even slices. Season them on both sides with salt and pepper and set them in a large frying pan. Cover them with stock, adding more if needed. Cover and simmer the chicken very gently until tender when pierced with a two-pronged fork, 8-10 minutes

2. Meanwhile start the sauce: Put the juniper berries and peppercorns in a plastic bag and crush with a heavy pan or rolling pin (or do this in a pestle and mortar). Put the crushed spices in a small pan, add the vinegar and boil for 2-3 minutes until reduced by half. Pour in the wine and boil for 3-5 minutes until reduced by half again.

3. When the chicken is done, transfer it to a plate, reserving the cooking liquid. Continue the sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the shallots or onion and sauté them for 1-2 minutes until soft but not brown. Stir in the flour and cook until it foams. Pour in the cooking liquid and bring the sauce to the boil, whisking all the time until it thickens. Add the reduced wine mixture and whisk in the tomato purée, cream, salt and pepper. Simmer the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon, 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

4. Return the chicken to the sauce, pushing the pieces down so they are completely covered. Cover and heat gently 2-3 minutes so the flavors blend before serving.

Short Cut: This sauce also works well with leftover pieces of roast chicken. Simply bake the chicken in the sauce until piping hot for a quick supper dish.

On the Side: New potatoes boiled in their skins.

In the Glass: A white wine in the style of Chablis, that is to say a flinty Chardonnay. I’m happy to say there are more and more of them around.

From Good Food No Fuss by Anne Willan, 2003
Photo CREDIT: Roger Stowell