This is comfort food at its best. It is a beautiful breaded chicken, but with much more complex flavours than most recipes I’ve seen. I’ve made this for company a few times, and it always gets rave reviews. In the past I’ve served it with a risotto or another rice dish, but this time it was with a spinach salad and tomato-pesto-topped buckwheat noodles. Gotta say, I think this is the best pairing yet.
The recipe comes from The Oprah Magazine Cookbook; I just cut down on the amount of the flour and bread crumb mixtures because there is always way too much left over, and I cut the fat in half.
What you need:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup bread crumbs
2 lemons (or one if you don’t mind serving the meal with zest-less lemons)
zest of 1 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (go for a good quality one, not the pre-shredded stuff)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pine nuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon butter (or one extra of olive oil of you’re aiming to be more heart-healthy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
What you do:
1. To prepare the coatings you will need 3 large plates. In one combine the flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and the pepper.
2. Onto the next crack the eggs and beat lightly with a fork.
3. One the third plate combine the lemon zest, bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon salt, Parmesan, pine nuts and basil.
4. Place the chicken breasts between 2 pieces of parchment or wax paper and pound with the dull side of a meat mallet (or a rolling-pin, or even an empty wine bottle might work) until they are 1/4 inch thick. Aim for an even thickness throughout the breasts so they cook evenly.
5. The cooking goes quite quickly, so make sure the rest of your meal is pretty much ready to go. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with the last 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Coat both side of one chicken breast in flour, then egg, then the bread crumb mixture. In the last plate you can press the chicken breast so it is sufficiently coated. Repeat this process with the rest of the chicken breasts.
6. Heat a large frying pan to medium and add 1.5 teaspoons butter and 1.5 teaspoons of olive oil. When the pan is hot add 2 chicken breasts and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until they are golden brown and cooked through. Add the rest of the butter and olive oil to the pan and cook the remaining breasts.
7. Squeeze a wedge or two of lemon over the chicken, then serve with a wedge of lemon on the side.