Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bruschetta Chicken


It’s probably unusual for an idea for a recipe to originate with a disappointment. This one did.



Earlier this year, while having dinner at a popular chain restaurant, I ordered a dish they called Bruschetta Chicken. It sounded good and, truth be told, it was, but there was nothing about it that said bruschetta to me. Deconstructed bruschetta? Maybe. But not bruschetta. I decided, right there in the restaurant, to create the Bruschetta Chicken I saw in my head when I first read the name: a comically large but otherwise normal bruschetta, a seasoned chopped tomato mixture on a toasted slice of good Italian bread normally served in much smaller portions as an appetizer, except topped with chicken. A kind of “Bruschetta a la Flintstone.”



It took awhile to get around to, but I’m happy to present the recipe below for what I have to believe is the world’s largest bruschetta. (To give a sense of scale, one Italian bread, which normally makes a dozen or more appetizer size bruschettas, is used here to make four meal-size ones.) A few comments before we get to the recipe itself:

  • Although this could be made with boneless chicken breast or chicken tenders, I used drumsticks and trimmed the meat off after they were cooked. This took longer than using one of the boneless chicken parts, but also gave me the advantage of cooking the chicken bone-in, which enhances the moisture and flavor, and also allows the person doing the cooking to decide whether to keep the skin on or go skinless.

  • I would be remiss not to acknowledge the braising liquid as being based on one created by Anne Burrell, my favorite culinary mad-woman, and the idea of roasting the tomato topping mix (instead of just using it cold as in the usual bruschetta method) as being from Rachel Ray. The shoulders of giants, and all that…


This recipe makes 4 meal size bruschettas.



Using paper towels, dry the outside of 1 pound of chicken breast or tenders, or two pounds (about 6) drumsticks. Season the chicken with salt and fresh ground black pepper.



Add just enough olive oil to a large, hot pan to coat the bottom. Add the chicken and cook till browned (usually about 6-8 minutes per side), turning as each side is done. When the chicken is browned, set it aside.



Pour 2 cups of dry white wine (I use chardonnay) into the same pan and simmer till reduced by half. Add 4 cups fat-free chicken broth; 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme; and 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary to form a braising liquid. Stir to combine and add the browned chicken. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. While the chicken is browning and braising, prepare the tomato mixture and bread as described below.



To cut the Italian bread into large bruschetta pieces:

  • Working length-wise, cut away just enough of the top and bottom crusts to expose the soft bread inside.

  • Cut the bread in half along the short dimension.




  • Cut each of those pieces in half horizontally. The result should be four similar pieces, each half the length of the original bread and with exposed bread on the top and bottom and crust on three of the four edges. 



Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven pre-heats, combine the following in a bowl: one 28 ounce can diced plum tomatoes (drained but not rinsed); 2 tablespoons of olive oil; 1-1/2 tablespoons of dried basil or 4 tablespoons of chopped fresh; 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar; 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion; 2 cloves finely chopped garlic; and salt and pepper to taste.



Place the tomato mixture in a baking dish, and spread the bread out onto a baking pan in a single layer. Place both in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes till the bread is crisp, turning the bread over half-way. Keep an eye on the bread so that it doesn’t burn.



Rub the tops of the bread with two whole garlic cloves (using ½ clove per bread slice), and drizzle the tops lightly with olive oil.




Divide the chicken evenly onto the bread slices. (If using drumsticks, cut the chicken off of the bone before putting the pieces on the bread.)



Cover each with the tomato mixture, and top with a pizza-type cheese mixture. (I used a packaged Kraft reduced-fat Italian cheese mixture of mozzarella, provolone and parmesan, but anything along those lines should do as well.) Be careful not to overdo the cheese; remember, the finished dish should resemble a bruschetta, not chicken parmesan.



Put the baking tray back in the oven only until the cheese melts, being careful not to burn the bread. Serve warm or hot with side dishes of choice. (In the photo at top, I served the chicken bruschetta with mini rotini pasta and tomato sauce, and a tossed salad. To tie all the parts together, the wine is the chardonnay used to braise the chicken.)

Bonus Recipe: I recently started including with each week's recipe a link to a previous Kissing the Cook recipe so that folks who weren’t “in the family” when it was first published can get a look. This week’s bonus: Fluffy (and Reduced Fat!) Blueberry Pancakes with Fresh Made Strawberry Syrup.



Hope you enjoy having these very special bruschettas! And don’t forget to visit again next week for another easy, delicious, kitchen-tested recipe. Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

4 comments:

  1. Ben, I think you've got a winner here! Anne B. really is a "wild woman"! What a combination--Anne and Rachel. Is there a cook off "contest" possible between the two of them--or, maybe, the three of you?

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  2. Excellent Ben! I really like this idea. And beautifully shot photos!

    Sandra
    http://www.torontobites.net/

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  3. it's like a stouffer's french bread pizza that will actually taste YUM!

    xxalainaxx

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  4. Thank you, Bonnie! Let the chain restaurants be warned: when something is called bruschetta, I expect bruschetta! lol. As for competing with the heavy hitters, that is something for some alternate universe, though I do love learning from them.

    Thanks, too, Sandra. I suppose cooking is really like any other creative endeavor: sometimes ideas and inspirations come from the most unexpected places. Glad you like it!

    And thank you, Alaina! :-) As I said above, I am not ready to compete with folks like Rachael or Chef Anne, but Stouffers? Bring em on! lol. Fresh beats frozen every time.

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