Paittard of Chicken Breast with I Fennel and Parmigiano

Laura Maioglio, owner of Barbetta Restaurant in New York City (see Appendix A), has provided this wonderful dish, to be enjoyed any time of the year. However, it's perfect for the summer months, because it's a light dish with fresh ingredients, and can be cooked on the barbecue, as well. The fennel and Parmigiano cheese offer two very opposing flavors but come together with the chive and sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. The ingredients create deep layers of flavor, requiring very little added salt.

Notice that the skin has been removed prior to cooking the chicken. By searing the breasts in a hot pan, the juices become locked within the chicken's crisp coat, keeping the breast from drying out.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

' bunch fresh chives 'A pounds cherry tomatoes

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided Salt and pepper

Pinch of salt 4 full boneless skinless chicken breasts,

' bulb fennel 6 ounces each, pounded flat

1 Chop the chives. In a blender, blend the chives with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the pinch of salt.

2 Slice the fennel into paper-thin slices.

3 Arrange four dinner plates with baby arugula on one side and fennel slices layered with Parmigiano slices over arugula. Halve the cherry tomatoes and place on either side of the salad.

4 Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken breasts.

4 cups baby arugula 4 ounces Parmigiano, sliced paper thin

3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, pureed

2 lemons, halved

5 Warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan. When the pan is very hot, place the 4 chicken breasts in the pan. Cook the breasts until they've acquired a golden color. Flip the breasts over and do the same to the other side. The breasts shouldn't cook more than 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Don't let the breasts become dry.

6 Place 1 chicken breast paillard on each plate next to the salad. Season with salt and pepper. With a spoon or squirt bottle, dribble the chive sauce and the tomatoes over and around the chicken breast paillards to create a colorful design.

7 Dress the salad plate with a drizzle of olive oil and a lemon half.

Tip: Fennel is a terrific herb you may not be familiar with. The thick bulb (sometimes called the "head") has a thick, cabbagelike texture and the rich flavor and aroma of licorice. (You can see what fennel looks like in Chapter 9.) Save the stringy tops, which resemble dill weed, for a fun and unusual garnish.

Per serving (with 2 tablespoons chive and sun-dried tomato vinaigrette): Kcalories 589 (From Fat 300); Fat 33g (Saturated 9g); Cholesterol 116mg; Sodium 904mg; Carbohydrate 24g (Dietary Fiber 7g); Protein 51g.

Marinating chicken for hours or even overnight is a great way to maximize flavor and add moisture to chicken breasts. Make up your own marinades based on what you're in the mood for. Here are some ideas to get you started.

✓ Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and oregano

✓ Light soy sauce, lime juice, minced garlic, and minced ginger

✓ Lowfat salad dressing, like Italian or Greek vinaigrette

Include an acid of some sort in your marinade to help break down some connective tissue in the meat, making it more tender and helping it to absorb the marinade flavor more completely. Good acid choices include citrus juice and vinegar. The marinade in the following recipe features lemon juice.

^^^ Roast Free-Range Chicken I Breast Stuffed with Porcini Mushrooms, Caramelized Leeks, and Pancetta

This dish is fantastic (courtesy of the Baricelli Inn in Cleveland — see Appendix A) and surprisingly simple. Although you want to keep the skin on while cooking the chicken, be sure to remove it after you sit down to eat. The skin is full of artery-clogging saturated fat. You won't even need the skin when you taste the pancetta. Pancetta is essentially Italian bacon, although it has a higher fat content and slightly saltier flavor than traditional bacon. For this reason, use it in moderation, as more of a condiment, than a main ingredient in dishes. Just a small amount can impart a delicious smoky flavor.

To create the delightful sauce, you need to rehydrate dried mushrooms. Rehydrating is easy, but remember: Always strain the liquid used to rehydrate mushrooms before adding it to any recipe. Gently pour it through a coffee filter to remove any dirt or grit.

Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes Yield: 4 servings

V2 cup dried porcini mushrooms

2 cups warm water, divided

3 sun-dried tomatoes

4 ounces lean pancetta (approximately 8 thin slices), diced

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium leek, tough greens removed, rinsed well, diced small

4 chicken breasts, skin on, boned and tenders removed, about 6 ounces each

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme 4 cups watercress, washed 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 Place the oven rack in the lower area of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Set aside a large roasting pan.

2 Place the porcini mushrooms in 1 cup of warm water. Let rest for 15 minutes. Repeat the process in a separate cup of water with the sun-dried tomatoes. Strain the porcini from the water and reserve the water. Cut the mushrooms into fine juliennes. Strain the sun-dried tomatoes from the water and discard the water. Cut the tomatoes into fine juliennes.

3 Sauté the pancetta in a pan until fat is rendered out, but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

4 Heat the butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the leeks and cook until lightly browned, about 4>2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, and pancetta to the sauté pan.

5 To assemble the chicken breasts, pull the skin back and season both sides with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with thyme on both sides. Spread about >2 cup of the mushroom mixture over each chicken breast. Cover with skin. Place in the reserved roasting pan. Top the chicken breasts with any additional stuffing mixture that is remaining.

6 Place in the oven and roast until browned, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a warm platter.

7 Toss the watercress with the olive oil and vinegar.

8 Deglaze the pan. Combine the porcini mushroom water and chicken stock in the pan used for the chicken. Simmer until reduced to >3 cup, about 6 to 8 minutes.

9 Serve the chicken breasts over the watercress and pour the sauce on top.

Per serving: Kcalories 527 (From Fat 266); Fat 30g (Saturated 10g); Cholesterol 145mg; Sodium 846mg; Carbohydrate 15g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 50g.

Per serving: Kcalories 527 (From Fat 266); Fat 30g (Saturated 10g); Cholesterol 145mg; Sodium 846mg; Carbohydrate 15g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 50g.

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