This is a recipe I created for Bon Appétit magazine, for an article featuring parsnips. It exemplifies one of my favorite ways to jazz up a simple pan-seared protein: while the meat is resting, deglaze the pan with a flavorful liquid—in this case, sherry—to make a pan sauce. (For more about how to make a pan sauce, read this post.)
- Four 6- to 8-ounce chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thick
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, divided, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, or more to taste
- 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup diced parsnip (1/2-inch dice)
- 1 cup diced tart green apple (1/2-inch dice), such as Pippin or Granny Smith
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
- 1 cup dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the parsnip and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the apple, thyme leaves, remaining 1 teaspoon of the salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper and cook until the parsnip and apples are lightly browned, about 1 minute. Remove to a plate.
Add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of oil to the skillet, if necessary, and heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn and continue to cook until opaque throughout, 2 or 3 more minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan, loosely cover, and let it rest.
Add the sherry to the skillet, scraping up any caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the parsnip mixture and cook until the sherry is reduced by half and the apples and parsnip are tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and swirl in the butter. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if you like.
Spoon the parsnip, apples, and pan sauce over chicken. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve.