Over the years, I have given fancy dinners that took days or weeks to plan and execute. Today, simple and uncomplicated entertaining is what I enjoy most.
This past weekend, for example, my husband and I phoned a couple on Saturday morning to suggest going to a movie and then coming to our house for supper afterward. They loved the idea and even offered to bring dessert.
I looked around to see what might be turned into a menu and found boneless chicken breasts, which could be marinated and then rubbed with a mixture of rosemary, fennel seeds, black pepper and kosher salt before grilling. Yukon Gold potatoes could be sliced and baked with Parmesan cheese and cream. At the market, I bought zucchini and yellow squash to saute with onions, tomatoes and herbs for a side dish.
Both the movie and the supper got very good reviews.
Fennel and Rosemary Pan-Grilled Chicken
Makes 6 servings
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5 1/2 to 6 ounces each)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 medium garlic cloves, smashed
3 bay leaves, broken in half
scant 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for pan
SEASONING RUB AND GARNISH:
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried rosemary leaves, crushed (see note)
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed (see note)
6 fresh rosemary sprigs, for garnish
6 (1/2-inch-thick) lemon wedges, for garnish
To prepare marinade, combine lemon juice, garlic, bay leaves, pepper, salt and oil in shallow nonreactive pan and whisk well. Add chicken and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours, turning several times to ensure even marinating.
To prepare seasoning rub, mix well salt, pepper, rosemary and fennel in small bowl.
Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Rub about 1/2 teaspoon seasoning on each side of each breast. Place stove-top grill pan over medium-high heat and brush with just enough olive oil to coat lightly. Or use large, heavy skillet and add just enough oil to coat lightly. Grill or saute chicken until cooked through and juices run clear, 4 to 5 minutes per side. When done, chicken should spring back when pressed with fingers.
To serve, arrange chicken on platter. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and lemon wedges. Squeeze lemon wedge over each serving before eating.
Note: To crush rosemary and fennel seeds, use mortar and pestle or place in self-sealing plastic bag and crush with meat pounder or rolling pin.
Pub Date: 6/14/98