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Friday, December 16, 2011

Get in my belly | Chicken Milanese with Tomato and Fennel Sauce

Oh wow - I've had this recipe kicking around my cluttered, over-stuffed to-try file for a few years. To be honest, I didn't think I'd ever really make it. It sounded blah, and what's Milanese anyway?

The only reason I even had a printed copy was because I came home one day to my husband raving about some recipe that he'd seen prepared on Food Network. "Go print it right now - it looked SO good." I obeyed, *grin* but then just threw it in the cavernous file with the million other recipes vying for my attention.

Well this week it sifted to the top. Something about the combination of the fennel, cherry tomatoes (which I had a pound in my fridge that needed to be used) and marscapone intrigued me.  So I added it to this week's meal plan and the ingredients to my weekly shopping list.

I hate trying a new recipe in the midst of chaos, but the schedule for the week told me to make it Wednesday night and so I obeyed (I'm such a good girl). Our fridge gave out on Monday and our new one was being delivered that night (it's shiny wonderfulness is beloved!). I had all the contents of my fridge piled on the counter tops and in ice-chests. Both kids had friends over and needed to each be at their separate small groups (at the same time no less!), so I had one chance to jockey dinner into position. I started dinner at 4:00 and the pay-off was big!

This poor discarded recipe is the new fave at the Lathrop abode! "Mom, can you make this all the time?" Yes, son.

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.


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