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50 Women Game-Changers In Food – Irma S. Rombauer – Sauteed Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes, Capers, and Basil

by Jeanette on August 5, 2011 · 15 Comments
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Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes, Capers, and Basil

This summer has been a nice time to try new quick and easy recipes, the simpler the better, the less time behind the stove even better. Our baseball season wrapped up this past weekend, and today I am sharing a recipe for Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes, Capers, and Basil, from Irma S. Rombauer’s The Joy of Cooking that I made on one of our game days. This dish can be made ahead of time – even better in my book.

This week, Irma S. Rombauer is being honored by a small group of food bloggers as one of 50 Women Game-Changers in food recently recognized by Gourmet Live. We’ve been cooking our way through this list of 50 influential women in food, selecting a recipe from each of them to try each week.

Kate Sekules, who came up with this list on Gourmet Live, says “In all its eight versions, and all its 75+ years, The Joy of Cooking is arguably the essential American cookbook. Irma wrote (and published) the first version in 1931, giving birth-literally-to a culinary dynasty.” Julia Child once said it’s the one book she’d keep if she could only have one English title on the shelf. Craig Claiborne called The Joy of Cooking the “finest basic cookbook available. It is a masterpiece of clarity.”

Aside from the fact that The Joy of Cooking contains nearly 5,000 recipes, I was most impressed by the level of detail in the recipes’ instructions. This is definitely an encyclopedia of recipes, including food and food preparation illustrations, substitution charts, and tutorials. Recipes cover all the food groups, and range from the most simple and basic – how to hard boil an egg – to the more sophisticated and unusual – Andalusian Partridge, making Joy of Cooking a lifelong cookbook to have in any cookbook collection, perfect for the beginner cook as well as the avid cook to reference for almost any recipe.

I was looking for a recipe to use some of the fresh tomatoes and basil from my CSA Box, and found a recipe for Sauteed Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast with Tomatoes, Capers and Basil. The chicken breasts can be sauteed ahead of time, and the sauce can also be made ahead of time. I was rushing off to a baseball game, and made both the sauteed chicken breasts and sauce before the game. After we got home, I simply reheated the chicken breasts in the tomato basil sauce. I actually sliced the chicken breasts which made it quicker to reheat this dish.

These Sauteed Chicken Breasts are so versatile, they can be topped with just about anything…pesto, sauteed mushrooms, a lemon-caper sauce, use your imagination. I had a few leftover Sauteed Chicken Breasts and served them for dinner another night with a sauce made by sauteing onion and garlic in olive oil, then adding capers, green olives, chicken broth and lemon juice (I was trying to use up odds and ends in my refrigerator).

Sauteed Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (Basic Recipe)

Adapted from the Joy of CookingI made a few adjustments to the recipe, including substituting cornstarch for the flour to make this recipe gluten-free. I also left out the butter and used olive oil in its place (the original recipe uses 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil). Once prepared, there are a multitide of sauces that can served with these sauteed chicken breasts.
Printable Recipe


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used cornstarch for a gluten-free option)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Coat the chicken on both sides with the flour (or cornstarch), pressing to make the tenderloins, the thin strips of meat on the undersides of the breasts, adhere.
  2. Gently shake off the excess flour, holding the chicken tapered side up to avoid detaching the tenderloins.
  3. Heat olive oil in a heavy 10-12 inch skillet over medium heat. Arrange chicken tenderloin side down in the skillet and saute for exactly 4 minutes.
  4. Using tongs, turn the chicken and cook until the flesh feels firm to the touch and milky juices appear around the tenderloins, 3-5 minutes more.
  5. Serve immediately, or remove to a platter and keep warm in a very low oven while you prepare the sauce.

Sauteed Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes, Capers, and Basil

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking. I used fresh scallions, tomatoes, garlic and basil from my CSA Box for this dish. I chopped the tomatoes whole, without seeding them.

Printable Recipe


  • 1 recipe Sauteed Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots or scallions
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
  • 1 pound tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons nonpareil capers, drained
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded fresh basil
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste


  1. Prepare Sauteed Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts and keep warm in a 200 degree oven.
  2. Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet, heat over medium heat, and add shallots. Cook, stirring, until shallots are softened, about 1 minute.
  3. Increase heat to high and add wine. Boil, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon, until the win is almost evaporated.
  4. Stir in tomatoes, capers and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until th etomates have given up their juice, creating a thick chunky puree, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add any accumulated chicken juices and boil the sauce until thick.
  6. Remove from the heat, and stir in basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Spoon sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.
Serves 2-4.

Please stop by and take a look at what the rest of the group made this week in celebration of Irma S. Rombauer:

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  1. This is one of those dishes that we just have to add to our summer recipes. It is so perfect for the season!

  2. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says:

    There is a wonderful used cookbook store in Assonet, Massachusetts (near Fall River) that has every edition of The Joy of Cooking, multiples of most. It's fascinating to page through the oldest editions to see how cooking has changed.

  3. Sue/the view from great island says:

    Great recipe, Jeanette. This is my favorite way to cook chicken, just simple and healthy. The combination of shallots and vermouth is always a winner. Your photo should be in the book!

  4. tomatoes, capers, and basil are an awesome flavorful combo :D have a wonderful weekend, jeanette.

  5. Susan Lindquist says:

    I do love the use of 'basic recipes' in Joy of Cooking that allow you to take a dish in many different directions! Your chicken treatment is so summery! Perfect post and a good tribute to Irma Rombauer!

  6. Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. says:

    Yum this looks fabulous

  7. Jeanette says:

    I would love to track down various editions of The Joy of Cooking to see the evolution of this cookbook and its recipes.

    This is a super versatile recipe, perfect for when school starts. I might make a big batch of the sauteed chicken breasts and just change up the sauce for two nights worth of dinners for my boys.

  8. Sippity Sup says:

    A great tribute followed by a great recipe. GREG

  9. girlichef says:

    Now that looks like a great summer meal…and it sounds delicious, as well. Perfect tribute :D

  10. Ah, The Joy of Cooking, a classic indeed and you've done such a great job with this recipe – it looks scrumptious!

  11. Shirley @ gfe says:

    Lovely meal, Jeanette! :-) I'm a Joy of Cooking fan. My copy is 30+ years old and I still reference it fairly often. That says a lot. My edition has no photos, just line drawings, which I actually like. Now I'm wondering if photos were added later. I suspect not …


  12. Your whole meal looks just beautiful and so well balanced. I'm enjoying cooking along with you!

  13. France@beyondthepeel says:

    Your photos turned out fabulous. I love the Joy of Cooking. I reference this book several times a week!

  14. Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger) says:

    Joy of cooking was my very first cookbook. (now I'm up to about 100…) This recipe looks prefect. Great use of seasonal ingredients.

  15. Jeanette this is such a vibrant chicken dish. We are always up for capers in our house. Summer basil makes everything tasty.

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