Airline Chicken Breast With Shallot-Mustard Sauce Recipe

Airline chicken doesn't exactly conjure up images of ultra-fine dining, even though modern airlines are all about first-class dining in the skies. While the origin of airline chicken is somewhat debated, the name does not, in fact, refer to where you eat it. More of a cut of chicken than an actual dish, airline chicken is just chicken breast with the skin and wing joint attached, both of which help keep the chicken flavorful and juicy. In some instances, the wing joint is frenched (meaning the flesh and skin are scraped away with a knife leaving the bone exposed), and sometimes not.

Airline chicken is one of those cuts that has gone in and out of fashion in the culinary world, which probably means that it's ripe for a comeback. Recipe developer Taylor Murray paired this cut of chicken with a classic mustard-shallot white wine pan sauce to enhance the dish and recall classic cooking techniques. "The method I chose to prepare this airline chicken is worth keeping in your back pocket. It's a traditional pan sauce that can be used in so many different ways if you swap out the type of herbs or protein." 

Gather the ingredients for airline chicken

While most of the ingredients for this recipe are straightforward and simple, the main ingredient is going to be the most tricky. We're talking about the chicken breast itself. You have two options: Either ask your butcher to cut them for you, or do it yourself. There are tons of videos online showing you how to do the process but it basically involves cutting the breasts from a whole chicken while taking care to leave the wing attached. Cut off the lower two joints of the wing and leave the drumette.

Once you have your two breasts, you'll need some finely chopped shallot, mustard, white wine, butter, chicken broth, lemon, and a few sprigs of fresh parsley and thyme. Make sure you also have some vegetable oil and kosher salt and pepper.

Sear the chicken

Pat the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel and season with kosher salt and pepper. Grab your stainless steel skillet and heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil to medium high. The oil should be just barely smoking. Place the chicken skin side down and cook until golden brown, which should take about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and repeat on the other side. Remove the chicken to a plate or tray and set aside.

Sweat the shallots

Pour out all but one tablespoon of the oil and bring the pan back to medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent. This process should only take a minute or so.

Deglaze it

As soon as the shallots are ready, pour in the wine. Scrape up any bits of chicken that caramelized on the bottom of the pan. "This process is known as deglazing," says Murray, "And it's vital for making the perfect pan sauce." 

Build the sauce

When the wine has reduced to about 2 tablespoons (it should be syrupy and thickened slightly), scoop the mustard into the pan. Whisk until fully incorporated, then add the broth. Turn the heat up on the pan and return the liquid to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.

"At a restaurant I worked at, this is the point where we would put the whole pan into a hot oven so the chicken could cook. The broth keeps the chicken from burning and drying out and putting it in the oven lets you have your hands and attention free for other things," says Murray. While heating up the oven just for a few minutes of bringing a chicken up to temperature isn't exactly efficient for the home cook, if you already have the oven hot for another dish then this method makes things easy.

Mount with butter

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it and set it aside once more. The liquid in the pan should have reduced to about 1/4 cup at this point, but if not keep simmering it without the chicken until it's there. Add in the cubes of butter and whisk constantly until fully incorporated. "In French, this process is called monter au beurre, or mounting with butter. It's a classic cooking technique that all chefs should know. The cubes of butter have to be cold so that they melt slowly into the sauce and emulsify. If the butter is too soft or, even worse, melted, you'll end up with a broken sauce," says Murray. 

Add the final touches

By now, the sauce should be silky, thick, and glossy. Squeeze a bit of lemon over it and whisk in the fresh chopped herbs. Add the chicken into the sauce and turn to coat. It should cling to the chicken with some extra left over for spooning over the top.

The sauce does not keep well overnight due to the fragile nature of an emulsified sauce, so you should aim to serve this as soon as possible. Keep things traditional and serve it with a fancy side like fondant potatoes and sauteed asparagus or pair it with a salad and some simple roasted squash. Either way, this dish is sure to join your list of favorite ways to eat chicken.

Airline Chicken Breast With Shallot-Mustard Sauce Recipe
5 from 34 ratings
Learn how to make this unique cut of chicken tossed in a traditional pan sauce made with shallots and mustard.
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
35
minutes
Servings
2
Servings
Seared airline chicken breasts
Total time: 40 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts, cut airline-style
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup cold butter, cubed
  • ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme, chopped
Directions
  1. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Season the breasts with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a stainless steel skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken skin side down and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip chicken and repeat on other side. Move chicken to a plate and pour out all but 2 teaspoons of oil.
  3. Return pan to medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent.
  4. Add wine and simmer until reduced to about 2 tablespoons.
  5. Whisk in mustard, then chicken broth. Return chicken to pan and simmer on low heat until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside once more.
  6. When the liquid has reduced to about ¼ cup, whisk in cold butter until completely melted. Squeeze lemon over sauce and add chopped herbs.
  7. Return chicken to pan and turn to coat in sauce. Serve with remaining sauce.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 762
Total Fat 45.4 g
Saturated Fat 17.1 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 259.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 17.3 g
Dietary Fiber 4.1 g
Total Sugars 5.8 g
Sodium 1,315.4 mg
Protein 66.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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