Chicken with Cherries in a Red Wine Pan Sauce

“Love doesn’t make the world go round.  Love makes the ride worthwhile.” Franklin P. Jones

February is often associated with cherry dishes in America yet cherries are not in season.  Why is that?  Well February is also when we celebrate Presidents Day and it is rumored that America’s first president, George Washington, cut down his parents’ cherry tree.  This story is nothing but a fable perpetuated by Parson Weem, a family friend and author, who thought the story would be a good moral tale to inspire the country’s young to tell the truth:  “I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet.” is the myth that has been oft repeated about George Washington.  American painter, Grant Wood immortalized Parson Weem’s Fable in his 1939 work of art of the same name.  The parson is in front of the curtain framing the unfolding moral tale.


The myth of President Washington loving cherries endures and cherry recipes appear every February.  When Tasting Table published this chicken recipe from Iowa Girl Eats recently, I was smitten.    Prince Charming was way less enthusiastic until he tasted it.  The chicken breasts are sautéed in a skillet.  A red wine pan sauce is then reduced with shallots, cherries, red wine, broth, fresh thyme and balsamic.  OMG!  A most gorgeous and savory ruby red sauce is created and spooned over the chicken breasts  for a very special dinner created in about 20 minutes flat.  I added spicy mustard to the sauce as I felt it needed a bit more flavor. Use frozen, fresh or preserved cherries(drained).  I used frozen cherries and Zinfandel wine.  We served ours with basmati rice so every last bit of sauce could be enjoyed. I think George Washington would have loved this dish too!

Chicken with Cherries in a Red Wine Pan Sauce

  • 4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, pounded to an even thickness
  • olive oil for brushing
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 1 c red wine of your choice
  • 1/2 c chicken broth
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T spicy brown mustard or Dijon
  • 12 oz fresh or frozen cherries(do not thaw)
  • 1 t thyme leaves
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Brush both sides of the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Sauté in a skillet until the chicken is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove to a platter and cover in foil to keep warm.  Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the skillet and cook the shallots until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the wine, broth, cherries, vinegar and thyme.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat so the sauce is bubbling and reduced by half, about 10-12 minutes.  Stir often.  Use a wooden spoon to press down on the cherries and split some of them in half.  Turn off heat, and add the second tablespoon of butter and the mustard.  Stir to mix in well.  Spoon over the chicken.

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15 thoughts on “Chicken with Cherries in a Red Wine Pan Sauce

  1. That painting is just wonderful! So is the quote and so true Johanne. Now to the recipe…equally wonderful and delicious as well. I really like chicken dishes with cherries such as this one. Perfect sweetheart dinner! Happy February.

    • I was thinking the color of this sauce was almost as gorgeous as blood orange juice! Nature has the finest palette. This dish is surprisingly quick and delivers terrific flavor and looks like the cook spent a lot longer in the kitchen! Being Canadian I always believed the GW fable. It wasn’t until my art teaching group studied this painting that I realized it was all made up! Glad that wasn’t a question on my citizenship exam!

      Johanne Lamarche


  2. Dear Johanne, Would this work with a pork roast do you think? I am cooking Ernie’s birthday dinner soon for 12 people and thought this was the thing. See you on Thursday! Jacqueline

    On Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 9:14 AM, French Gardener Dishes wrote:

    > Johanne Lamarche posted: “”Love doesn’t make the world go round. Love > makes the ride worthwhile.” Franklin P. Jones February is often associated > with cherry dishes in America yet cherries are not in season. Why is > that? Well February is also when we celebrate Presidents Day an” >

    • I am sure this sauce would be lovely with pork as well Jacqueline. You might want to add a little more butter since you won’t have the chicken fat. Or cook your pork, keep it under foil and use the pan drippings to make the sauce. I got the frozen cherries at our favorite: TJ!

      Johanne Lamarche


  3. Wow Johanne,

    I never new that cherries were associated with George Washington. See, you learn something new everyday.

    This chicken recipe with red cherry and wine sauce looks delicious and perfect for Valentine’s day. I make a chicken recipe with mushrooms and champagne sauce that taste amazing too. I was wondering, is the sauce a little bitter or is it sweet?

    Great tutorial. Love your photos. PS, going to tea next week at a wonderful tea house near me call The New Leaf Tea Room in Riverton, NJ. Have you been there?? There are hosting a Downton Abbey themed tea later this month.

    Have a great week.


  4. The sauce is not bitter at all Janet. It is very much like a classic French red wine reduction but will those luscious cherries added. Don’t buy sour cherries though. Isn’t pretty? I brought the leftovers to my 22 yr old son in his new apt in DC and he loved it too. I have not been to this tea room but love Riverton. Enjoy and I bet I will be reading about it soon at a favorite blog.

    • Hi Nancy! I was also drooling over Teresa’s blood orange sauce! Both sauces are proof nature has the best palette. I agree this cherry wine reduction would be just as lovely with pork. Nice to hear from you.

      Johanne Lamarche


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