Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fall-ing for Scallopini: A Recipe for Chicken with Apple, Fennel & Thyme

I just got back from a visit to PA, right in time for the final "hurrah" of fall splendor.  The leaves on the drive down were just glorious.  My parents were having an Indian summer. The sun was shining almost every day.  The air smelled of dirt and decaying leaves.   It was exactly what I have always remembered autumn to be.

If only the visit were under better circumstances.  I drove down to be with my aunt Annie who had suddenly gotten quite ill.  She is home now, thank God; we are all very grateful.  But for a few days, things were quite scary.

My other aunt, Judy, came over for dinner one of those nights.  We were planning on going to the hospital right after we ate, so I wanted to make something quick and easy.  I decided on scallopini for ease, and in keeping with the beautiful fall weather, I chose to top it with apple, fennel, and thyme.

Aunt Judy loved it, so I decided to post the recipe for her.  This is another meal that you can really do whatever you want. Scallopini is any type of meat (although usually chicken or veal), thinly cut, and then sautéed.  You can top it off with whatever you choose, or just make a pan sauce like I taught you to make a few posts ago.  Or do both! It's all up to you.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.  Or create a different topper and share. We all would love to get some new ideas!

Chicken Scallopini with Apple, Fennel and Thyme

Serves 4

Special tools needed: large skillet, medium skillet, pie plate or cake pan, serving platter, foil

  • 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each one sliced crosswise into two 1/4-in. thick pieces (if large, cut them into 3 slices); pound to tenderize between two sheets of plastic wrap, if you have the time
  • 1 large apple-y apple that holds its shape when cooked (I used a Fuji), diced into 1/4-in. cubes
  • several sprigs worth of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 small fennel/anise bulb, the hard root end cut off and tossed, the white part sliced very thinly (Tip: save the green part to use when you make stock)
  • 1/2 cup flour in a pie plate or cake pan (use almond flour to make it gluten-free)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tblsp-ish olive oil
  • 2 Tblsp. butter
  • 1 Tblsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup water or dry white wine


1.  Salt and pepper both sides of each piece of chicken.  Turn the oven on to 200° for warming purposes.

2.  In the large skillet, heat the olive oil until it is hot and shimmery.  While it is heating, dump the flour into a pie plate or cake pan and dredge (that just means lightly coat by dragging) the first two chicken pieces (called cutlets) in the flour, making sure that both sides are coated.  Gently shake off any excess flour, then lay the chicken cutlets in the skillet and brown both sides of the meat, about 2 minutes per side.  I always watch for when the chicken becomes opaque halfway up the side; that's when I flip it.

3.  Move the two cooked cutlets to a plate and cover the plate with foil to hold the moisture in; put the plate in the oven to keep warm.  Repeat the process with the rest of the chicken, adding oil to the pan if you need to.

4.  When you are halfway done with the chicken cutlets (or you can do this step after the chicken is done), melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in the medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the apples and fennel, sprinkle on a little salt and pepper, and sauté until both are starting to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the thyme leaves and continue sautéing until the apples and fennel are golden, about another 5 minutes.

5.  Reheat the large skillet with all the browned bits in the bottom, then add about 1/2 cup of water or dry white wine to the skillet.  Simmer and scrape up all the yummy brown crud on the bottom of the pan, stirring to allow those bits to melt into a sauce.  When the water/wine has evaporated until only half is left, turn the stove off and stir in the tablespoon of butter until it has completely melted and slightly thickened the sauce.

6.  Arrange the chicken cutlets on a platter, pile the apples and fennel on top, then drizzle everything with the pan sauce. Serve!

Feel free to print the recipe by clicking on the image below.  (That is going to be project #2, once I'm done setting up the recipe index: creating printable recipes! If you find something you want a recipe for, let me know, and I'll create one for you.)

Happy November!

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