Dissolving anchovies over a pan of hot water quickly yields a rich brown sauce and the addition of roasted garlic and cream will transform a simple wine-poached chicken breast into something unusually delicious. The anchovies add their indefinable richness and the garlic creates a hint of sweetness.
I recommend serving this with tagliatelle verdi (green ribbon pasta) for some color but if taste is as important to you as it is to me, I advise against the new style of ‘supergreens-enriched’ pasta, unless you love the overpowering aroma of really old grass cuttings. Dried kale, broccoli, parsley, zucchini and spinach sound like wonderful, healthy additions but your taste buds will revolt. Tagliatelle verdi is the only way to go.
CHICKEN BREASTS IN A WHITE WINE, GARLIC & ANCHOVY CREAM SAUCE
6 medium sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise into 3 pieces each
5-6 fat cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1/2 pint (300ml) of white wine
The juice of 1 medium sized lemon
5 fresh bay leaves
One 2 oz (56g) tin of anchovy fillets
1/2 pint (300ml) of heavy cream
A good handful of Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper – and perhaps some sea salt
Preheat the oven to 325F (170C). Lightly oil a shallow gratin/baking dish and put half of the bay leaves in the bottom. Arrange the sliced chicken in a single layer on top with the remaining bay leaves over the chicken and the garlic cloves tucked in among the slices.
In a small saucepan, bring the wine and lemon juice to a boil and quickly pour over the chicken. Cover the dish tightly with foil and stick it in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the garlic is tender.
Remove the chicken from the liquid, cover and keep it warm while you make the sauce.
Discard the bay leaves and set aside the garlic. Pour the cooking liquid into a small saucepan and simmer to reduce it to about a third. It should be slightly syrupy.
Meanwhile, tip the anchovies into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. They’ll quickly melt into a brown creamy sauce. Squeeze the garlic out of their papery skins and push them through a sieve into the anchovy sauce. Add this along with the cream to the reduced wine/lemon liquid and bring it to a boil for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat, season generously with freshly ground black pepper and stir in the chopped parsley.
Pour the sauce over the cooked chicken and combine everything well.
Serve the chicken and sauce over your favorite (green) pasta. A mixed leaf salad with a lemony dressing on the side would be a nice accompaniment.