May 10, 2010

Chicken Milanese with Tomato and Fennel Sauce

I am now willing to admit, I have a cookbook addiction. It's true. I need help. I am constantly checking out cookbooks from the library and then purchasing the ones I cannot live without (which is to say, my cookbook collection is getting out of control). I just can't stop myself. For example, I have three library cookbooks sitting on my coffee table, and three more on hold at the library. The books I love, I keep renewing until the library cuts me off. I am only willing to return one of my borrowed copies, after I decide to purchase it. I recently went through all of my cookbooks and weeded out the copies that I simply don't use. I got rid of five books, and now I am clamoring to replace them. What does this confession have to do with this recipe, you ask??? Well, I found this dish in one of my library cookbooks Giada at Home. It is her latest, and in traditional Giada-style, it is packed with recipes that I am excited to try. I think I have three of her dishes slated for this week alone. Sigh. This may be another cookbook that I am forced to purchase for myself. I need an intervention.

Chicken Milanese with Tomato and Fennel Sauce
From: Giada at Home cookbook by Giada De Larentiis


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

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. 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.

The Result:
This was fan-freakin'-tastic! The tomatoes burst and mixed with the mascarpone and fennel to create a savory, creamy sauce. After we were done eating, and I put all the food away, I literally stuck my finger in the pan and licked up the sauce remnants (gross and TMI I know, but I couldn't help myself). It was so good! Normally, I am not a huge fan of raw fennel; but cooked fennel is a whole other issue. The cooking mellows the flavor and makes it very yummy. This was the perfect balance of flavors and the chicken was tender and juicy. So freakin' good!!!! This recipe was a great introduction to Giada's new cookbook and it will be something I make again. I LOVED it!!!

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