Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mustard Milanese Chicken

It is not often that I make a recipe for dinner and run to my computer to immediately blog about it. I ate this less than an hour ago and here I am, kitchen cleaned up, photos edited, and blog entry in progress. That should tell you that this is a special one.

This recipe comes from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which is probably the best Christmas present I got this year. The recipes on Deb's blog are always brilliant, so I expected no less from her book, but it is much more than that. Even as I sit down to write this post, I find myself lovingly flipping through the pages, sighing over the gorgeous photography and engagingly-written recipe intros. I want to make every single recipe (even the ones with ingredients I don't normally eat, like fish). So far I've made four recipes from the book in the two and a half weeks I've had it at home, which is undoubtedly the fastest I've ever gotten into a cookbook. Everything I've made has been wonderful.

This recipe stood out to me because of the gorgeous picture. Honestly, it's just a piece of chicken, breaded and fried. I recognized that when I noted the recipe on my mental must-do list, but something about it called to me, and I'm glad it did.

You see, while I pretend to be all bad-ass in the kitchen with my fancy food blog, when it comes to breading and frying meat, I sit back and leave things to Jeff. My husband is brilliant at this. When he asked me to put chicken parm on the menu this week (which is one of his specialties), I showed him this recipe and got him to redirect his enthusiasm. Chicken parm is great and all, but why douse a perfectly crisp, golden-brown breading in tomato sauce if you don't have to? Jeff executed this recipe perfectly, pounding the chicken thin, breading it and crisping it to golden perfection in the pan. The chicken was crunchy on the outside while staying moist and succulent on the inside. The mustard and lemon juice in the batter added a delicate zing to what appeared to be an ordinary chicken dish.

I'm glad we have leftovers, because (as Jeff so astutely observed during dinner) this will make one hell of a sandwich for lunch tomorrow.

Mustard Milanese Chicken
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1/3 c flour
2 eggs
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp lemon zest
2 c panko breadcrumbs
canola oil for cooking
lemon slices, for garnish

Lay one chicken breast on a cutting board, cover it with plastic wrap and pound it to 1/4" thickness with a meat pounder (you don't want a spiky tenderizer because it will flay your plastic wrap to shreds). Slice into relatively equal thirds. Repeat with the other chicken breast. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Add about 1/4" of oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high.

Arrange three large plates or shallow containers on your counter. Add the flour to the first and the panko to the third (we advise only adding a small amount at a time, to reduce waste at the end). Whisk together the eggs, mustard, garlic, oregano and lemon zest and add them to the second container (you will have more than is pictured below - the original recipe called for half this quantity, but because we cut our chicken into more pieces, we ran out halfway through).

Dredge each piece of chicken lightly in the flour, then in the egg mixture, then coat well with panko, patting it into any naked crevices.

Carefully lay the breaded chicken in the hot oil. Cook 3-4 minutes per side, until golden-brown. Continue to dredge the rest of the chicken as these cook. As each piece is done, remove it to a paper bag or folded up paper towel to drain. (You may need to replenish your oil for subsequent batches of chicken - if so, make sure it gets nice and hot before adding any more chicken to the pan!)

Serve with lemon slices and a nice salad. Drizzle your chicken with a small squeeze of lemon juice before enjoying!

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