Wine suggestion
Medium-bodied whites with herbal or earth notes:
Rueda Superior 1998, Belondrade & Lurton (Spain)
Grüner Veltliner "Alte Reben" 1998, Bründlmayer (Austria)

If you can get fresh pine shoots - the tender ends of the needles of the white pine tree - by all means use them. The idea is that you dip each piece of chicken in a pine shoot-hazelnut-salt mixture before you eat. Otherwise, substitute fresh rosemary leaves.

Yield: 4 servings

  • 4 boneless chicken breast halves, preferably with skin on
  • 3 Tablespoons canola, grapeseed, or other neutral-flavored oil
  • 1 Tablespoon pine shoot needles or rosemary leaves, very finely minced
  • About 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 Tablespoons hazelnuts, very finely minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 500°F. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When it begins to smoke, add the chicken, skin side down. Cook for about 3 minutes, until nicely browned, then turn the chicken over and put the skillet in the oven for another 3 minutes or so, until done.

While the chicken is cooking, mix the pine shoots or rosemary leaves with the coarse salt and the hazelnuts. Place one-fourth of this mixture on each of 4 plates.

When the chicken is done, place a piece on each of the plates. Add the stock to the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring, for just a minute, until reduced by about half. Spoon a little of this juice over each breast and serve.