Pan Fried Chicken with Mint Panzanella
My oldest little girl recently turned three (where did three years go already?) We spent a good part of the day celebrating at a sweet little park by the river in some uncharacteristically warm Seattle sunshine. There’s something so natural about people gathering together outdoors. Especially when you watch children – it’s like they soak up energy directly from the sun and fresh air, and they can’t help but to run and shriek in happiness. Adults are similar if you think about it, only more subdued. Next time you’re outside with friends or family, watch their mood change. People smile more. There’s more laughter, and a greater appreciation for life in general.
Sometimes I think about how strange it is that we spend most of our lives in buildings. The majority of us work, eat, relax and sleep indoors. Is this what was intended for our species, I wonder? To cut ourselves off from the sun most of the day? Or would we, if we found our way back to open air living, realize a greater level of being? I wonder if avid hikers and sun worshipers already know something the rest of us don’t. Perhaps we were made to play outside. In this strangely warm spring, I’m becoming more and more willing to test the theory.
This recipe is like a promise of hotter months to come. Sweet bursts of cherry tomatoes, tangy-crisp pickled onions, and the fresh flavor of mint are enveloped in silky, fruity olive oil. This is all piled high over crispy chicken thighs, seared to delicious perfection. This flavorful dish is begging to be served outside on a porch somewhere, with the people you love and something ice-cold in a glass. I don’t think it gets much better than that.
Why is it good for you?
Tomatoes were the very first “superfood” I ever learned about. They’re amazing. They’re rich in several commonly deficient nutrients, including antioxidant vitamins A and C and potassium. They also contain the four main carotenoids (pigments found in plants). According to the Micronutrient Information Center at Oregon State University, carotenoids have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and macular degeneration. They’re best absorbed with fats such as olive oil (amply present in this recipe).
Mint has “one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any food”, according to Medical News Today. Our body needs antioxidants to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals, thereby preventing diseases such as cancer. Mint is also thought to aid digestion and ease upset stomachs by increasing bile secretion.
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 3-4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- Thick country bread, torn into bite size pieces (about 2 cups)
- 6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 2 Tbsp. avocado oil (or any high-heat cooking oil)
- 20 fresh mint leaves, chopped or thinly sliced
- Place onions in a small bowl and add enough vinegar to cover them. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, stir, and set aside.
- Preheat oven broiler on high.
- Toss bread pieces with 1 Tbsp. olive oil.
- Spread bread pieces evenly across a parchment lined baking sheet and broil for 6-8 minutes, tossing every few minutes.
- Place a chicken thigh between two layers of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, flatten the thigh to 1/4" thickness. Repeat with remaining chicken thighs.
- Season both sides of chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
- In a large skillet, heat avocado oil on medium-high until shimmering.
- Working in batches to avoid crowding, add chicken thighs to the pan and allow to cook 4 minutes. Avoid moving the chicken to allow proper browning.
- Flip chicken and cook the second side for about 2 minutes. When cut in to, juices should be clear and there should be no pink in the middle.
- As chicken cooks, make the panzanella: combine tomatoes, bread, onion, 3 Tbsp. of onion pickling liquid, remaining 5 Tbsp. of olive oil, and mint in a large bowl. Mix gently and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place each chicken thigh on a plate and top generously with panzanella. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Crispy Chicken Cutlets with Cherry Tomato Panzanella in Bon Appetit magazine.