It’s storming outside (at least in New York), but there’s the slightest hint of Spring in the air. Beach season is just three months away. It’s time to start lightening things up around here, and I don’t just mean dinner.
Here’s a dish that’s special enough for guests, but quick and easy enough to whip up for your own lunch (as I did today.) The ingredients are few and easily sourced, but their combination is subtle, sophisticated and delicious. With a green salad, it’s one of my favorite lunches. Add with, say, wild rice and a green vegetable, and it makes a satisfying dinner.
The keys to success are to balance the sourness of the capers with the sweetness of the wine and not to overcook the chicken. Salt the chicken generously as you cook it, but don’t salt the sauce –the briny capers provide nice salty bursts of flavor as you eat.
(Serves 4. Adapted from Patricia Wells’ Vegetable Harvest)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets (about 4 oz each)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons capers in vinegar, drained
1. Cut each chicken breast in half the long way, place between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a kitchen mallet (or a rolling pin or heavy saucepan or skillet) until it’s about 1/4 inch thick.
2. Combine the chicken, mint and one tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl and marinate for at least 15 minutes.
3. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until it shimmers. Add the chicken and cook for 2 minutes on each side, seasoning each side with a sprinkling of kosher or coarse sea salt.
4. Remove the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
5. Add the wine and capers to the pan, scraping up any browned bits of chicken that remain, and bring to the boil.
6. Boil until reduced by about 2/3 and slightly syrupy. (This will take 2-3 minutes.)
7. Pour over the chicken and serve immediately.