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This melty-cheesy chicken is topped with a velvety, caramelized onion gravy. Served atop toasted baguette slices, this flavorful dish has all the magic of French onion soup. A quick pass under a broiler will bubble and brown the cheese to a perfect finish.
Your chicken breasts should be about 1 inch thick. Use a sharp knife to slice them thinner if needed.
Press the “Sauté” button on your Instant Pot, and be sure that it is set to “Normal”. Add olive oil to the Instant Pot liner, and wait until the display reads “Hot.” It’s important to wait until the pot is fully heated in order to get a good sear on meats. If the pot isn’t heated enough, it will begin to draw liquid out of the meat, and the chicken will seem to be boiling rather than sizzling.
This is what a nice chicken sear should look like:
Next up are the onions. Slice them up super thin for the best flavor and texture. The slices should be nearly translucent, like this:
Add butter to the pot, allow to melt and sizzle, and then sauté the onions until soft and slightly caramelized. Add garlic, bay leaf, and thyme, and cook just until garlic is fragrant. Add wine to deglaze the pan. Stir and scrape the pot until all stuck-on bits are loosened (this helps to prevent the “Burn” message on the display.
What kind of wine is good for deglazing/cooking? I have one simple rule of thumb:
If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it
That means not using anything labeled “cooking wine.” Yuck. Cook with the wines you like. Drink the “leftover” wine (is there such a thing?). I used a dry red wine, but some onion soup recipes call for sherry—I go with what I’ll enjoy drinking once the bottle is opened.
Add the Better than Bouillon (I love this stuff, and use it for so many different dishes) or beef broth, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and chicken to the pot. No trivet is needed, since we want the chicken to absorb all of that nice onion-y goodness. Lock the lid, turn valve to “Seal” position, and cook under high pressure for six minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, toast the bread under a broiler or in your toaster oven. The bread soaks up that wonderful, beefy sauce, and really rounds out this dish and makes it French onion soup-y. You can omit the bread if you’re going low(er) carb (I might try this over cauliflower rice next time), and reduce or omit the cornstarch thickener. Place bread slices in a single layer at the bottom of a casserole dish.
I’m lazy, and I use parchment paper for everything to help with cleanup. I like the unbleached variety that I buy on Amazon.
Now it’s time to make your slurry. A slurry is a mixture of very cold water and cornstarch (or flour), used to thicken sauces. The emphasis is on cold, since warm water will cause your cornstarch to clump. Whisk equal proportions of cornstarch and cold water together until well-blended.
After a full natural pressure release (about 10-15 minutes), remove chicken from the Instant Pot. Turn pot to “Saute” again (you’ll probably have to hit the “Cancel” button first). Pour your slurry slowly into the simmering sauce, whisking and heating until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble. Take a taste at this point to see if it needs more salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the cheese topping will add some more saltiness to the flavors.
Top each bread slice with a spoonful of the thickened sauce. Place chicken in a single layer over bread slices. Top with more sauce, a layer of the cheese, and a final drizzle of sauce. Place under broiler just until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. This should take no more than 3-5 minutes, so watch it carefully.
The bread is so good after it absorbs all the juices and little splots of cheese. Enjoy!
- 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced to approximately 1 inch thick, and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1 tablespoon beef-flavored Better than Bouillon combined with 2 cups water, or two cups beef broth
- 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 8 oz Gruyere or Swiss cheese, sliced or shredded
- Optional: French baguette loaf or Italian bread, cut into thick slices
- Set Instant Pot to Normal Sauté. Wait until display reads “Hot,” and add olive oil.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken (two breasts at a time) in pot, turning and cooking just until seared (about 1 minute each side. Remove chicken from pot and set aside.
- Add butter to pot and allow to melt and sizzle slightly. Sauté onions in butter until lightly caramelized (browned). Add garlic, bay leaf, and thyme, and sauté just until garlic is somewhat softened but not browned.
- Add wine to pot and thoroughly deglaze pan. Add beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper, and stir to make sure all bits are loosened from pan liner.
- Add the chicken back to pot, place lid on pot, and close valve. Set to high pressure for 6 minutes. Allow 10 minutes natural pressure release, and remove chicken and most of the onions from pot, but leave broth in pot. Discard bay leaf.
- Optional Step: While pressure is releasing, lightly toast bread on both sides, and lay pieces out on a baking pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the cornstarch and cold water. Whisk into hot broth, and heat until thickened and bubbly. Add salt and pepper to taste as the sauce is thickening.
- Spoon sauce over each bread slice, and then lay chicken cutlets on top of bread slices.
- Pour sauce and onions over chicken and toast, reserving a little of the mixture. Layer with cheese, and drizzle remaining sauce on top of cheese.
- Place under the broiler just until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned (about 4-5 minutes). Remove from oven and serve.