Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Idol watching with some Bottega Chicken Scaloppine

So Season 8 of American Idol started last night, which means that DonnaBud comes over for some chow and cocktails and we park ourselves in front of the tube and make fun of people.  I'll get to the chow part later, but first, let's discuss Idol.

The new judge...Kara DioGuardi....seemed jury's still out, but anything to take the focus off of the inebriated, pill-popping Paula.  Now that Kara's in town, Paula can GO.

I don't really enjoy the audition phase of the show that much and the bad singers make me uncomfortable, but if you don't watch, you may miss the opportunity to see people like.....

Katrina Darrell.  The only thing missing from this HO's audition was the pole.  Seriously, girl?  Where is your mother?  The sad part is she could actually sing....she's not going to win this thing,  but the bikini was not necessary.....except for Simon's pleasure.  Maybe after you get kicked out in Hollywood, you can audition for Girls Next Door.

On to the chow.  Bottega Chicken Scaloppine.  O.M.G.

A little history first.  Bottega is the name of a fabulous restaurant here in Birmingham and is owned by Chef Frank Stitt (who also owns the reknowned, Highlands Bar and Grill and Chez Fon Fon).  While Highlands is the most famous, Bottega has always been my favorite.  My awesome friend Jenny's husband, Dean Robb, was the head chef there (until his recent move to Nashville) for years and was truly the reason behind Bottega's great success.  A few years ago, Chef Stitt published the beautiful cookbook "Frank Stitt's Southern Table:  Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill" and last month his new cookbook "Frank Stitt's Bottega Favorita:  A Southern Chef's Love Affair With Italian Food"  hit the street.  Both are great books, but the new one is one I could see myself cooking through.  (I'm not making any bold commitments here, but I'm thinking about it!)  

So last night for Idol's premier, I made a dish that I've had in the restaurant before and was delicious.  It is the most ordered dish at Bottega Cafe' and I thought I could handle it.  I think I did.  It was delicious and not that difficult.  DonnaBud loved it and took the leftovers home with her!!

It starts with breading four chicken breasts.  The recipe calls for breadcrumbs, but since I'm in the middle of a love affair with panko.....panko is what I used.  I also added some grated parmesan to the panko.

The sauce is made by boiling white wine, sherry vinegar, shallots, a dried red chile pepper (I couldn't find one so I used dried red pepper flakes) and a bay leaf over "medium-high heat until the pan is almost dry".  Then add heavy cream and 1 and 1/2 sticks of butter.  Eeeeek.  Remember that post about getting into a bathing suit??  I only added one stick and I still felt guilty!

But only until I tasted that sauce!  Unbelievable.  Seriously.

After taking the chicken out of the oven, slice it on the bias and spoon some of the sauce over and top with chopped tomatoes and capers.  As you can see, I served this with a simple salad of greens and made a lemon vinaigrette.  The restaurant serves this with polenta, which I would make for Mr. B, but for DonnaBud and I, the salad was perfect.

Here's the recipe:

Bottega Chicken Scaloppine
Frank Stitt's Bottega Favorita:  A Southern Chef's Love Affair with Italian Food

This is the most-ordered dish at Bottega Cafe'  -  it's just the right combination of crisp, golden crust and juicy, moist chicken.  We serve it on Creamy Polenta with a little salad of tender lettuces, and the acidic tartness of capers and the lemon sauce  brings it all together.  The chicken can be breaded well in advance:  place on a small parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to cook.  Be sure to dust off excess flour before dipping the chicken into the egg to make a lighter breading.  And pay attention to the bread crumbs  -  not too fine, not too coarse, but a good mix of irregular sizes.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, preferably from naturally raised chicken, rinsed and patted dry
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs (I used panko and added parmesan cheese)
2 tablespoons olive oil, canola, or grapeseed oil
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup sherry vinegar or champagne vinegar
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 dried red chile pepper (I couldn't find one so I used a teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes)
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 pound (1 1/2 sticks)  (I used only one stick.....only, ha)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons diced tomato
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.  Set out three shallow plates in assembly-line fashion.  Put the flour in one, the beaten egg in the next, and the bread crumbs in the third.  Dredge each seasoned chicken breast in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip in the eggs, and finally press them into the bread crumbs to coat thoroughly on both sides.  Set the breaded chicken on a plate

Heat a large ovenproof saute' pan over medium-high heat, and add the oil.  Brown the chicken breasts on both sides until golden, about 3 minutes per side; regulate the heat as necessary to achieve a uniformly browned crust.

Transfer the pan to the oven and cook the chicken until cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a rack to rest briefly.

Meanwhile, combine the wine, vinegar, shallot, chile, and bay leaf in a saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook until the pan is almost dry.  Add the cream and simmer until it reduces to about a teaspoon.  Whisk in the butter little by little over medium-low heat until the sauce is creamy and emulsified.  Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste and the juice of the lemon half.

Slice the chicken on the bias and arrange on serving plates.  Spoon the sauce over the top and garnish with the diced tomatoes and capers.

This was so delicious and I'll absolutely be making it again for Mr. B.

I am seriously thinking about "cooking through" this book and if I do, I'm putting you on speed dial, Dean Robb!!!!

Go buy these books, people.


  1. Hey,
    Carolyn Here.......
    AI is a trip! The boys about wet their pants when Simon said that guy sounded like a cat falling off the Empire State Building.....Not too impressed w/ the auditions or Kara or is it Karah....per Simon!! Anyway, not sure why I watch this shit, but its enjoyable with a nice cocktail,kids in bed and Rick at Men's night at the is Good.......

  2. i like the new judge, she seems to know what she's talking about. i also thought she sounded pretty good when she was trying to show bikini girl how it's done. :)

  3. Now I understand why the Bottega Chicken Scaloppine is the most ordered dish - it was awesome!! I enjoyed the leftovers the next day too. Donna Bud
    P.S. Don't get hurt skiing we need you for the team!

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