Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts With Onion and Ale Sauce

Total Time
Prep 30 mins
Cook 30 mins

Cook's Illustrated. "Try to choose 10- to 12-ounce split chicken breasts with skin intact. If split breasts are of different sizes, check the smaller ones a few minutes early to see if they are cooking more quickly, and remove them from the skillet if they are done ahead. Brown ale gives this sauce a nutty, toasty, bittersweet flavor. Newcastle Brown Ale and Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale are good choices."

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Dissolve salt in 2 quarts cold tap water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken in brine and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Rinse chicken pieces under running water and pat dry with paper towels. Season chicken with pepper.
  2. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; swirl skillet to coat with oil. Brown chicken skin-side down until deep golden, about 5 minutes; turn chicken pieces and brown until golden on second side, about 3 minutes longer. Turn chicken skin-side down and place skillet in oven. Roast until juices run clear when chicken is cut with paring knife, or thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter, and let rest while making sauce. (If not making sauce, let chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.).
  4. Using potholder to protect hands from hot skillet handle, pour off most of fat from skillet; add onion, then set skillet over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add chicken broth, bay, brown sugar,brown ale, and thyme; increase heat to high and simmer rapidly, scraping skillet bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until slightly thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour accumulated chicken juices into skillet, reduce heat to medium, and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time; season to taste with salt and pepper, add 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar and discard bay. Spoon sauce around chicken breasts and serve immediately.
Most Helpful

What a great recipe. Restaurant quality, to be sure. I will make this again and again. Thanks, swissms, for another keeper!

mersaydees April 28, 2013

Perhaps the best chicken I've ever made! This was my first time brining and I will do it more often. The chicken was so perfectly cooked and flavorful. I used Anchor Steam Brewing's Liberty Ale to celebrate the 49ers playing in the Superbowl. My only challenge was that only three of the bone on chicken breasts would fit in my large skillet. In the future I might make more sauce so there would be leftovers of the yummy onions. I would love to eat a big bowl of these onions every day!

FLKeysJen February 09, 2013

Wow! We LOVED this chicken. Usually chicken breasts can come out dry, but this was nice and moist. I especially loved the crispy crust that formed after browning on the stovetop. The brining method gives the chicken enough salt (and makes for a more flavorful, moist breast) so just hitting the chicken with pepper on both sides before browning was perfect. I used a large cast iron pan and would recommend that. The sauce is a must! It is absolutely delicious!! I used Killians beer and instead of a sprig of thyme I used 1/2 t. of dried thyme. I would definitely serve this chicken with sauce to guests. Note: In the ingredients list, the bay leaf and brown sugar are listed under "Chicken", but it should be listed under "Onion and Ale Sauce"...if you're the type who likes the ingredients in order of use (like I am!!). Thank you for a top notch recipe!! I'm adding this to my best of the best file. :)

LifeIsGood February 03, 2012