Sunday, December 4, 2011

drunken chicken

I had a pretty lazy Sunday but I did manage to make a really great Sunday supper- even if it was just for me. Wow that makes it sound a little depressing, but I didn't mean it to sound that way. I actually had a really nice time zoning into my own world to make this.

The recipe is admittedly not of my own creation. The flavors are ones I play with a lot- lemon, tomatoes, capers- but the actual recipe is from Giada De Laurentis's cookbook Giada's Kitchen.  I made a few changes, most notably I substituted chicken for the pork chops Giada used and seasoned the chicken with smoked paprika which added a different flavor element. I also accidentally DOUBLED the white wine from 1/2 cup to 1 cup, so I just gave it more time to simmer and cook off.  I mean, I like cooking with wine, but that extra 4 oz would have been better off in a glass- no need to liquor up the chicken!

The result is a comfort dish that is actually much brighter and lighter than it appears. You can thank the  tomatoes, lemons, and fennel for that... fennel and lemon always make a tasty duo. Never cooked with fennel? Raw, the flavor is heavily licorice but when cooked the fennel is sweet and mild with just a nice hint of licorice. This is a good dish to make if you have no fennel experience.

Chicken with Fennel and Caper Sauce
(serves 4-6)
modified from Giada De Laurentis's Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce

1 1/2 - 2 lbs chicken breasts
1/4 cup olive oil 
3/4 tsp salt (plus more for chicken)
3/4 tsp black pepper (plus more for chicken)
pinch smoked paprika or other favorite herb
2 bulbs fennel , sliced (Note: remove fronds, core, and stalks!)
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2/3 cups parsley leaves,  chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes, 28 oz 
1 lemon, zested 
3 tablespoons capers, drained

1. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika (or other herb of choice).

2. Heat oil in large skillet. Once oil is hot, add chicken and cook  4-5 minutes per side, or until browned.

3. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate covered lightly with foil. Note: the foil does serve a purpose- it seals in the moisture.
4. To same skillet, add fennel, 1/3 cup of parsley, and shallots. Cook about 5 minutes, or until the fennel and shallots are starting to brown. 

5. Add white wine and loosen any stuck on bits of flavor from the bottom of the skillet using a wooden spoon. Note: The wooden spoon wont ruin the pan! Add diced tomatoes and juices. 

6. Add chicken back to simmering sauce and submerge. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked completely and fennel is soft. 

7. Once chicken is cooked, add capers, salt, pepper, remaining 1/3 cup of parsley, and lemon zest to pan and stir. Simmer another five minutes and serve. 

I served this over quinoa, but it would be great over pasta, alongside roasted potatoes, or simply with some crusty bread to top up the juices. 

This dish was a real winner- lots of flavor and only one pot dirtied- my kind of dinner. 

And for dessert? Stove-popped popcorn with truffle oil, salt, and pepper. So chic.

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