September 10, 2009

Chicken Milanese with Tomato-Fennel-Mascarpone Sauce

Anything that's lightly fried in oil has got to be good.  Something that's lightly fried in oil by Giada De Laurentiis, well, that's even better.  I have a confession to make.  I have a crush on this woman, a culinary crush that is.  Giada has the incredible ability to make my mouth water with almost any dish she makes. Perhaps it's because a good percentage of them contain mascarpone cheese... Though I usually try to abstain from fried foods (both for the calorie content and the inevitable stove-top splattered mess) the Chicken Milanese she made a couple weeks ago on her show, Giada at Home, seemed like a dish that was worth making a greasy mess over.  The chicken, which is breaded then pan fried in vegetable oil, is accompanied by a creamy sauce of cherry tomatoes, fennel, and- you guessed it- a generous serving of mascarpone.  

Not a huge fan of fennel, I had the notion to substitute it for caramelized onions. So glad I didn't!  Fennel, when raw, is extremely reminiscent of black licorice, something that I am also not a huge fan of.  But when sauteed and softened in olive oil, the flavor becomes much milder and subtly sweet.  I have been converted- I am now a believer in fennel! The only modification I might have made to this recipe, would be to add a hint of acidity.  I think a quick squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top of the chicken, just before serving, could have really heightened the flavors.  Something to keep in mind for next time, because I will definitely be making this again!

Chicken Milanese with Tomato and Fennel Sauce
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis
(My modifications are in green)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups plain bread crumbs
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 (6 to 8-ounce) boneless and skinless chicken breasts, tenderloins removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup vegetable oil

** I used Italian style bread crumbs, skipped the dried basil, and added only 1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups (12 ounces) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

For the chicken: Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a wire rack.

Using 3 wide shallow bowls, add the flour to 1, the eggs to another and to the third bowl combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, basil, and thyme.

On a work surface, put the chicken between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, lightly pound the chicken until approximately 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly, then dip into the beaten eggs, allowing the excess egg to drip off. Coat the chicken with the bread crumb mixture, pressing gently to adhere.

In a large, nonstick saute pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add 2 pieces of the breaded chicken into the oil and cook until light golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Reserve the cooking juices in the saute pan.

For the sauce: Using the same saute pan, add the olive oil to the reserved cooking juices and heat over medium heat.
(I opted to poor out about half of the reserved juices. There was a lot of oil left in the pan, and I didn't think it seemed necessary for the sauce.) Add the fennel and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the cherry tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, garlic and thyme. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the tomatoes are tender. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the mascarpone cheese and stir until the mixture is creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and spoon the sauce over the top before serving.

**I garnished the chicken with chopped, fresh flat leaf parsley, which made for a pretty presentation. Also, I would suggest adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

1 comment :

  1. Karlie this blog site is great! This chicken recipe sounds fabulous but please make it at YOUR kitchen in New York B/F you come home and make a mess in mine! JK! I think I will also try it here.
    Keep the good recipes coming. I am excited for you!