Do not salt the chicken for longer than the recommended hour or it will become too salty. Don’t worry if some of the crumb topping falls into the skillet in step 3. It will disappear into the sauce.
4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
Salt and pepper
4 ounces French baguette, cut or torn into 1-inch pieces (4 cups)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons melted and cooled
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 shallot, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1. Sprinkle chicken all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Meanwhile, process bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about 20 seconds. Add Parmesan, softened butter, 2 tablespoons parsley, garlic, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and process to combine, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
3. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with pepper. Arrange chicken, skinned side up, in 12-inch ovensafe skillet with narrow ends pointing toward center of skillet. Brush chicken with melted butter. Top each breast with equal amount (generous 1/2 cup) crumb mixture, pressing firmly to adhere.
4. Whisk cream, broth, wine, shallot, and mustard together in 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Carefully pour 1 1/2 cups around chicken breasts, taking care not to wet crumbs on top of chicken. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until crumbs are deep golden brown and chicken registers 160 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes.
5. Using spatula, carefully transfer chicken to platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Pour remaining 1/2 cup sauce mixture into skillet and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cook until thickened and reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing sauce with chicken.
Cooking the chicken right in the sauce allows for maximum flavor transfer between the two. We use a skillet instead of a baking dish so we can reduce the sauce to the proper consistency after the chicken has baked.
1. Arrange the uncoated chicken breasts with the narrow ends meeting in the center of the skillet.
2. Pack a quarter of the crumb mixture on top of each piece.
3. Carefully pour 1 1/2 cups of the cream mixture around the chicken.
4. Move the skillet to a 425-degree oven and bake.