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Pan Roasted Chicken with Heirloom Tomatoes
and Fresh Bay Leaf

by Chef Michel Nischan,
Heartbeat at the W New York Hotel,
New York, NY



  • 2 each skin-on, boneless chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each
  • 2 each fresh bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
  • 4 to 6 cloves roasted garlic
  • 2 cups reduced rich chicken stock
  • 1 each purple cherokee tomato sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 each big daddy sunshine tomato sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 to 3 each small green zebra tomato sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 6 each yellow pear tomato, slit in half lengthwise
  • 6 each red pear tomato, slit in half lengthwise
  • sea salt and freshly milled pepper to taste
  • 6 year aged balsamic vinegar to taste

Insert a fresh bay leaf between the skin and meat of each chicken breast. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

Remove the bay leaves and reserve. Heat a medium sauté pan over a low flame* for several minutes until the pan is quite hot. Lightly season each chicken breast with salt and pepper on both sides. Rub the grapeseed oil onto the skin of each chicken breast and place the breasts, skin side down, into the hot saute pan. Turn the heat up to medium and allow the breasts to cook until well browned. Turn the chicken breasts over then use a paper towel to absorb the excess fat.

Add the roasted garlic and allow to heat until you can smell their perfume. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. Remove the breasts to a heated holding plate and keep warm.

Increase the flame and reduce the chicken stock until it coats a spoon like syrup. Reduce the flame and add the sliced tomatoes. Allow the tomatoes to just heat through. Swirl the pan, rather than stirring, so the tomatoes retain their individual shape and color. Remove from the flame immediately and swirl in the reserved bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add balsamic vinegar if the sauce needs acidity. Divide the tomato sauce to the centers of two warmed bowls or deep-rimmed plates. Place the chicken breasts over the sauce, garnish with the bay leaves, and serve with toasted crusty bread.

*This method of preparation uses a low temperature saut&eactue;. Leaving the pan over a low flame for a long period of time allows the pan to get hot enough to put a good sear on the chicken. When the chicken is added to the pan, the initial heat sears the skin while the cool temperature of the flesh reduces the heat of the pan shortly afterward. Oil is rubbed on the breasts rather than placed in the pan. This method, combined with the heat absorption of the breast, protects the oil from breaking down which would create free radicals. Turning the fire up once the chicken is added gently brings the heat of the pan back to a point which allows the skin to crisp without scorching.