Fast and Easy Chicken Breast

Each whole chicken breast is actually two pieces when off the bone, and very often each breast half is called the breast, leading to confusion in recipes of how many pieces of breast meat are being called for.

This recipe calls for one boned half breast (no wing bone attached) per person, making it a very economical dish. The breast meat is flattened out and cooks in a few minutes, so it is fast, and once you get the hang of pounding out the chicken meat, it’s easy. And, of course, these chicken “steaks” can be broiled, as well as grilled.

Ingredients

  • 2 large chicken breasts, skinned, boned (4 boned half-breastpieces)
  • 4 tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • ½ tablespoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large fennel bulbs, trimmed, halved lengthwise, cored
  • 8 lime wedges
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Put the chicken pieces between two pieces of heavy plastic, and with the side of a cleaver or mallet pound them out evenly until ¼ to ⅜ inch thick. Mix 1 tablespoon of the chili powder and the canola oil in a shallow pan or platter just large enough to hold the four flattened breast pieces in one layer. Dip the chicken in the mixture and marinate for 3 hours, turning once.

Make ancho butter by putting the butter, ½ teaspoon of salt, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of the chili powder in a food processor and blending it until the butter is smooth and the chili totally incorporated. Let the chili butter stand for at least 2 hours to develop its flavors. If you refrigerate the butter, bring it to room temperature, whisking it to get the right smooth texture before using.

Start a charcoal or wood fire, or preheat the grill or broiler.

Put the anchovies, orange zest, mint, and olive oil in a bowl big enough to hold the fennel. Boil the fennel in salted water for 10 minutes or until tender, drain well, and while still hot put it in the bowl and gently mix with the marinade. Season the fennel.

When ready to serve, grill or broil the fennel over medium heat for 5 minutes per side. Then move it to the edge of the grill and keep warm.

Salt the chicken pieces and cook them on a hot charcoal grill or under a broiler for 2 minutes per side. Serve the chicken with a squeeze of lime and the ancho butter on top (or pass it separately) and the fennel with the marinade spooned over it.

Variations

By all means use turkey, goose, game, or duck to make these little “steaks,” the turkey served with mole sauce and the duck or goose with cooked white beans tossed with blanched pea tendrils, chopped garlic, parsley, and a pinch of cardamom.

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