Chicken breasts take an elegant turn with Chef Kim's Asian twist on beurre blanc, a classic French butter sauce: fermented black beans, Shaoxing wine, and lots of garlic add tons of unexpected flavor. Serve on a bed of creamy potato-parsnip mash for a comforting, delicious dinner.
Black Bean Sauce: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Peel and cut shallot into ¼-inch slices. Add to a medium saucepan with 1 tablespoon oil. Sauté over low heat until shallot softens and becomes translucent, 2–3 minutes. Add white and Shaoxing wines, bring to a simmer, and reduce the liquids by about half, 6–8 minutes. Add fermented black beans, garlic cloves, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and reduce the liquid by about half, 20–25 minutes. Meanwhile, start the Potato-Parsnip Mash.
Potato-Parsnip Mash: Peel and dice the potatoes and parsnip into uniform 1-inch cubes. Place in a large saucepan. Add water and a few pinches of salt, then bring to a boil over high heat, 6–8 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, gently heat the heavy cream over low heat, then set aside.
Chicken: Heat an ovenproof nonstick skillet over high heat. Season chicken breasts liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and swirl around to coat the bottom. When oil is smoking, add breasts skin side down; cook until skin is golden brown, 2–3 minutes. Then flip the breasts so they're skin side up and place skillet in the oven until chicken cooks through, 8–10 minutes.
Check potatoes and parsnips for doneness by removing one of each from the water with tongs; they should feel soft when gently squeezed. Drain well and place back into the pot; add the butter. Mash the potatoes and parsnips until they are coarsely crushed and coated with melted butter. Add about ¾ of the warmed cream and continue mashing until creamy; add more cream as needed. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.
When the Black Bean Sauce has reduced to about half, strain it into a bowl. Reserve the garlic cloves and discard the rest of the solids. Place the garlic cloves and the sauce into a blender and purée, starting on low speed; if the sauce is very hot, remove the cap or stopper on top of the blender so steam can escape. Turn the speed to high until completely puréed, about 1 minute. Pour back into the saucepan and keep warm over low heat. (Makes 1 quart. Black Bean Sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for 2–3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.)
After chicken has been in the oven for 8–10 minutes, check for doneness. It should feel firm to the touch or register 160 F at its center. (Note: Safe internal temperature for cooked chicken is 165 F; however, chicken will continue cooking once it’s out of the oven.) Remove chicken to a plate to rest. Chinese Butter Sauce: Place the skillet with drippings over low heat and add about 1 cup of Black Bean Sauce. Turn the heat to high and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the fond (the roasted bits stuck on the bottom of the pan). When the sauce has simmered and slightly reduced, taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add 1 pat of butter; swirl the pan to melt and emulsify. Repeat with remaining 2 pats of butter; the sauce should be velvety smooth.
Assembly: Place a large spoonful of Potato-Parsnip Mash on a plate. Nestle a chicken breast on top, and spoon plenty of Chinese Butter Sauce around the sides. (Avoid pouring sauce directly on the chicken skin, so it can remain crisp.) Finely slice the light green part of the scallion on a bias and scatter over chicken. Serve immediately.
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