The simple and quick French pan sauce gets a salty hit from bits of cured Virginia ham; hence the name of the dish.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (trimmed of excess fat, and tenderloins as needed, about 1 1/2 pounds), pounded to a thickness of about 3/4 inch
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup finely ground white cornmeal (may substitute flour)
- 1/4 cup minced shallots or scallions
- 3 tablespoons minced ham, such as Smithfield
- 1/2 cup white wine, or more as needed (may substitute chicken broth)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Swirl the mixture in the pan; the butter should just turn brown but not burn.
Wash the chicken and pat it dry thoroughly with paper towels. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper to taste, then coat lightly in the cornmeal and shake off any excess.
Increase the heat to medium-high; add the chicken breasts. When they start to brown on the bottom, reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, then turn them over and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed so they brown but do not burn.
Sprinkle the shallots and ham around the chicken; cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Carefully add the wine to the pan, which will help deglaze it; use a wooden spatula to dislodge any browned bits. The chicken should be evenly browned and just cooked through; transfer to a platter.
Stir in the parsley, sage and cream. Cook for a few minutes, adding a little wine as needed to achieve the desired consistency of sauce; it should just coat the back of a spoon.
Pour the sauce evenly over the chicken; serve immediately.
From Rob Stewart of Arlington.
Tested by Rob Stewart and Bonnie S. Benwick.
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