The secret to perfectly replicating The Cheesecake Factory’s most popular chicken dish —which is thin chicken breast fillets topped with asparagus, cheese, mushrooms, and a Madeira sauce—starts with creating the perfect clone of the sauce. My first go at this dish revealed a simplified version of the sauce that, while quite delicious, does not duplicate the flavor or color as closely as I think it should. That’s why I went back into the lab and spent several days working on just the sauce. After many attempts I found that infusing the sauce with flavor from carrots, celery, onions, and garlic, then straining and reducing the sauce to around one-quarter of its original volume, gave me a perfectly rich flavor that much more accurately mirrors the original. I also noticed that when I chilled the sauce from the restaurant, it solidified to the consistency of a Jell-O shot. A clue! I added unflavored gelatin to my version of the sauce, which gave it the perfect velvetiness of a collageninfused stock reduction. It was now perfect. The full-size entrée at the restaurant includes two thinchicken breast fillets, but since this restaurant typically serves giant, often unfinishable portions, I’ve reduced this dish to one breast fillet per serving to give you a total yield of four servings. Of course you can always double up to make two bigger servings that end up looking just like those at the restaurant. You’ll want to be very hungry for those plates.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup diced carrots
½ cup diced onions
½ cup diced celery
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups Madeira wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (1 envelope)
⅛ teaspoon salt

2 skinless chicken breast fillets
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
Ground black pepper
8 asparagus spears
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Cooking method

1-Make the Madeira sauce by heating up the oil in a 2½-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions, celery, and garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until the vegetables begin to brown. Add the wine and tomato paste and cook for 5 to 7 minutes (once it begins to simmer) or until the wine reduces by half. Add the beef broth and cook for 10 to 15 minutes (once it begins to simmer) or until the sauce again reduces by half. Strain the sauce through a wire mesh strainer and rinse the pan. Whisk the brown sugar, gelatin, and salt into the strained sauce (discard what’s left in the strainer), then pour the sauce back into the pan. Cook the sauce for another 5 to 7 minutes or until it reduces by half and thickens. You should have about 1 cup of sauce.

2-Make the chicken by slicing through the middle of each chicken breast, making 4 thinner chicken breast fillets. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap. Pound the fillets to about ¼ inch thick with a kitchen mallet.

3-Heat up the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Pour the beaten eggs into a plate or pie pan. Add the flour to another plate or pie pan. Dredge each chicken breast in the egg, coating both sides, then press it into the flour, coating both sides. Drop the chicken breasts into the hot sauté pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until browned. Cover all of the chicken fillets when they are done to keep them warm.

4-Preheat your broiler to high heat.

5-Steam the asparagus in a steamer basket in a saucepan over boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes or until bright green.

6-Prepare the mushrooms by melting the butter in a sauté pan over medium/high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the mushrooms begin to brown.

7-Assemble the entrée by placing the chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Cross two spears of asparagus over the top of each chicken fillet, then cover each with a generous pile of shredded mozzarella cheese.

8-Broil the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes or just until the cheese begins to brown.

9-Prepare each plate by placing a chicken breast on the serving plate. Spoon some mushrooms onto the chicken, then spoon a few tablespoons of Madeira sauce over the top.

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