I agree that my recent obsession with roasted chicken might be a bit, compulsive. So much so that I am researching recipes to quickly roast split chicken breasts. I started the research simply because I have seven chicken carcasses in my freezer awaiting a stock pot and simply don't have the room for another. Furthermore, I figure a quick roast could save some time on late nights. I followed a recipe for Pan Roasted Chicken Breast with Sage Vermouth Sauce from "Cook's Illustrated". Here are a few conclusions.

In cooking, just as in mixology, the right vermouth matters. My bar at home is seriously depleted. It's a tactic I use when I need to rid myself of mistakes I've purchased. It forces me to get inventive using what I have. The only vermouth in my house is Dolin Chambéry Blanc. This is not to be confused with the Chambéry Dry. The Blanc is an off dry style that has a bit more texture and sweetness. I like to make an "Improper Negroni" with this vermouth. It has the color of yellow Chartreuse and a really neat savory character. When I made the pan sauce below with the this vermouth, it added a clear sweetness to it that was slightly over the top.

Some of the world's pleasures just can't be rushed. There's no substitute for stuffing a bird, rubbing it with herbs and letting it roast in the oven (or the grill). The flavors that develop from a long roast cannot be accomplished by any combination of pan searing and roasting. Life's a little easier when a bird is in the oven and you can take it slow for a few hours. It's also much more tasty.

Pan sauces require patience and excellent timing. I had zero of those attributes after an "Improper Negroni" and hasty (but accurate) execution of the recipe. An FCI graduate once told me that pan sauces can make or break you. There is an inherent talent and skill in the preparation. A great chef knows how to save them as well. My success rate with pan sauces comes in at about 50/50. And I have no skill in saving them once they break. While I love dabbling in the kitchen, front of the house is where I truly belong.

Here's the recipe. Give it try and let me know if you have more luck then I did. Just make sure you use dry vermouth, unless you have a sweet tooth.

Pan Roasted Chicken with Sage Vermouth Sauce
For the chicken

1 cup kosher salt
4 split bone-in skin-on chicken breasts
Ground black pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

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 under running water and pat dry with paper towels. Season chicken with black pepper.

Adjust oven rack to lowest portion and heat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; swirl skillet to coat with oil. Brown chicken skin-side down until 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 a paring knife or thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 15 - 18 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter and let rest while making sauce.

For the Sage Vermouth Sauce
1 large shallot, minced (about 4 tablespoons)
3/4 cup canned low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry vermouth
4 medium sized fresh sage leaves, each torn in half
3 tablespoons unsealed butter, cut into three pieces.
Salt and ground black pepper

Using pit holder to protect hands from hot skillet, pour off most of the fat from skillet; add shallot, then set skillet over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until shallot is softened, about 1 and 1/2 minutes. Add chicken broth, vermouth, and sage; increase heat to high and simmer rapidly, scrapping skillet bottom with wooden spoon to loosen brown bits, until slightly thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour accumulated chicken juices from platter into skillet, reduce heat to medium and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time; season to taste with salt and pepper and discard sage. Spoon sauce around chicken breasts and serve immediately.

Improper Negroni
3 oz St. George "Terroir" gin,
1.5 oz Dolin Chambéry Blanc vermouth
1.5 oz of Gran Classico bitter
Add ice, gin, vermouth and bitter to cocktail shaker. Stir gently. Strain into chilled martini glass.

I drank a glass of 2005 Conde de Jauregui Rioja Reserva with dinner. I was glad I grabbed this instead of chardonnay or pinot noir. It's earthy spice and balanced acidity helped cut through some of the sweetness of the pan sauce.