I KNOW that I am not alone in this - I find Giada De Laurentiis fascinating. I am intrigued by the fact that, though her head is clearly disproportionately large (in relation to her tiny, tiny body), she's a breathtakingly stunning woman. I'm entranced by the way she says "Parmigiano-Reggiano" and "mozzarella." I'm amazed by the fact that, in addition to her food background, she also has a bachelor's degree in social anthropology from UCLA. And most importantly, I'm enchanted by her food - she is somehow able to take the most simple and basic recipes and ingredients and turn them into elegant dishes with powerhouse flavors. This is definitely the case with her grilled chicken with basil dressing, a boldly tangy, yet almost effortless dish.
- 2/3 cup good extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp lemon juice + 1/4 cup
- 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed (you should probably use a spice mill for this, but I don't have one, so I just whacked at the seeds in a bowl with my cocktail muddler until they were mostly pulverized)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 3 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 3 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
- 1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 2 tsp grated lemon zest
First, I whisked together a 1/3 cup of the olive oil, 3 tbsp lemon juice, crushed fennel seeds, salt, and pepper in a bowl. And what's that white blob, you ask? A secret ingredient I'm not telling you guys? Nothing so exciting - it's just the glare from the light.
I poured the marinade over the chicken (snuggled in a plastic container), massaged it into the meat for a couple of minutes, and refrigerated for about 5 hours. Why 5 hours? I put the chicken in the marinade after I got home from work, and didn't cook it up until Mark got home after 11. But according to Ms. De Laurentiis, you can marinate the chicken for anywhere from 30 minutes up to a day. It's your world, do what you feel.
Sometime in between putting the chicken in the fridge and cooking it, I combined the basil, garlic, lemon zest, remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice, salt and pepper in my food processor and pulsed until the mixture was smooth.
Then I added the remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil, and pureed again until the dressing was well combined.
Right before we were ready to eat, I melted 1 tbsp of butter with 1 tbsp of oil in my grill pan over medium high heat, took the chicken out of the marinade, and grilled it until golden brown on both sides and cooked through (about 8 minutes a side).
I served it with brown/wild rice combo and spooned the basil dressing over the top. As you can see from the header photo, I may have gone a little overboard with the dressing - as Mark noted, it's very pungent and lemony, and is probably best in a smaller portion (though not for me, I loved it and basically drowned my chicken in it). Either way, it was a tasty dinner - the chicken was really flavorful on its own, and the basil dressing gives it a nice bold and tart kick. Oh, beautiful Bobblehead Laurentiis, you've come through yet again...