The National Chicken Cooking Contest, with a grand prize of $100,000, is taking place Friday, May 4 in Birmingham, with 51 contestants – one from each state. I’ll be there, wearing my red satin sash, representing the state of Missouri.
We’re packing up the Odyssey with my pans and potholders. And the two kids. They’ve never seen me compete at a cook-off, but I don’t have any doubt about what they’re most looking forward to: swimming in the hotel pool.
Tune in next week for the full report!
Makes 4 servings
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1 1/2 teaspooons kosher salt, divided
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
1 fennel bulb, stems trimmed, halved and thinly sliced crosswise
1/3 cup quartered grape tomatoes
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup baby arugula
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese curls
Butterfly each breast: cut 3/4 through center of thicker, long side of each chicken breast and open flat. Pound to an even thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap; place chicken in a large shallow baking dish.
Puree 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, buttermilk, fennel seeds and basil in a blender or mini food processor. Pour over chicken, turning to coat. Cover and marinate at least 15 minutes, and up to 2 hours.
In medium saucepan, mix together remaining lemon juice and olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, garlic, beans, and sliced fennel. Place over medium heat and simmer about 2 minutes, or until fennel is crisp-tender. Remove from heat and gently stir in tomatoes, lemon zest and parsley.
Sprinkle chicken on both sides with the remaining teaspoon salt and pepper. Spray a large non-stick grill pan with cooking spray and place over medium high heat. Cook chicken 3 minutes per side.
Slice chicken into 1/2-inch thick slices. To serve, spread 1/4 cup arugula over each sliced chicken breast. Spoon fennel salad over arugula and top with cheese.