Chicken Milanese On a Bed of Arugula & Tomatoes ~ The Garden of Eating - a sinfully good blog about food

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chicken Milanese On a Bed of Arugula & Tomatoes

It seems there's a fungus among us... I heard last week that the rumors of late blight in the Hudson Valley have been confirmed. Hisss!!! Boo!!! Keep your spores off my 'maters.

Ulster Germaid tomatoes by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

We've only been harvesting our little crop of tomatoes (some cherries and some big, juicy Ulster Germaids like the one shown above that we've grown from seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed Library) for a couple weeks now and they are so sweet and flavorful - I am hoping we can at least enjoy them for a few more weeks. That's my roundabout way of suggesting that you make this delicious meal now, since there may not be much of a future for tomatoes on the east coast this summer...

Chicken Milanese over a bed of fresh arugula with tomato by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

This dish is inspired by a similar one I had at Cucina, an upscale Italian restaurant here in Woodstock (photo below from their site) that we really like. A lot of other people seem to like it, too, including the Hudson Valley glitterati - the last time we ate there we were seated next to Uma Thurman and saw Natalie Merchant walking in as we walked out. That's just how we roll in the most famous small town in America (in your face, Phoenicia!)


Anyway, back to the recipe. This is a simple meal but sooooo good. The chicken is crispy outside and tender inside with a nice crunchy, salty, cheesy crust that is enhanced by squeezing a little lemon juice over it. And the sweet, juicy tomatoes play nicely with the fresh, peppery bite of the arugula combined with a splash of olive oil and rich, sweet balsamic vinegar.

Chicken Milanese by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

I have to admit that I LOVE pounding the crap out of a chicken cutlet until it is "only wafer thin." There's really no better way to get out a little aggression (the bird is already dead, after all.) Muuuuuccchh cheaper and quicker than talk therapy...

And I love this metal mallet I got for the purpose. It's got one flat and one spiked side and is actually surprisingly light and easy to wield. And it removes my anxiety over using a wooden mallet to pound meat as it just seems like it has to be nearly impossible to get a wooden one truly clean. Not so with the metal kind which I wash and then put in the dishwasher just to be safe.

Mallet by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Although I am in no way above using prepared breadcrumbs, I was overtaken by feelings of guilt while staring at a Bread Alone baguette I'd unintentionally let go stale on the counter.

Stale Bread Alone baguette by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

So I made a small tub of breadcrumbs by food processing the bread to fine crumbs and then adding some grated Parmesan, sea salt and black pepper to make the breading mixture.

Homemade breadcrumbs by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

The process of breading and frying the chicken always takes a little more time and effort than I'd like (mainly to clean it up) but, on the whole, this is a fairly easy meal to assemble. The chicken pieces are quite thin (especially if you've got any anger or frustration you need to work out) so they cook quickly.

Frying the breaded chicken cutlets by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

I made the salad with some arugula I picked out of our little container garden - I love being able to pick it while it's still young and tender and has not yet turned bitter or tough.

Fresh arugula from the garden by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

And topped it with some of our first fresh tomatoes. Then drizzled some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a tiny bit of salt over it all.

Ulster Germaid tomato from our garden by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

It is delicious... You're welcome.

Chicken Milanese over a bed of fresh arugula with tomato by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2012

Chicken Milanese On a Bed of Arugula & Tomatoes
Serves 4

Ingredients

* 4 boneless, skinless, organic chicken cutlets
* 1 1/2 -2 cups breadcrumbs (panko is a good choice for a crispy crust)
* 2-3 Tbsps grated Parmesan cheese
* 2 large eggs, beaten in a shallow bowl
* 1 cup of flour
* Sea salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 2 large or 3-4 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, chopped
* 1 bunch of arugula, washed, dried and with the ends of the stems removed
* 4 lemon slices
* 1/3 cup olive oil plus a little more for the salad
* Balsamic vinegar

Directions

1. Put one or two of the chicken cutlets in a plastic bag (you can also use wax paper or plastic wrap but a bag will work just as well and is less wasteful), lay them on a cutting board and pound them with a mallet or rolling pin until they are nice and flat and thin (you're shooting for a thickness of roughly 1/2 inch.) Repeat with the others and set them aside.

2. Prepare your breading station: combine the flour, salt and pepper on a plate or a rimmed baking dish, put the beaten eggs in a shallow bowl next to the flour, combine the breadcrumbs, grated parmesan and a little more salt in a third rimmed dish next to the eggs. The order should be flour, eggs, breadcrumbs.

3. Working one at a time, dredge the flattened chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, making sure you coat them well, then dip them in the egg (again, cover the whole piece) but try to let the excess egg drip off back into the bowl, and then roll them in the breadcrumbs making sure you cover all the surfaces (you can pick some up and sprinkle it on the cutlet if this is challenging.) Set each piece aside as you finish then go wash your hands.

4. Heat 1/3 cup of olive oil in a wide shallow frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Fry the chicken pieces until golden brown - about 3-5 minutes on each side then remove them from the pan and drain on a paper bag (or a plate).

5. Divide the arugula between four plates and top with the chopped tomatoes. Drizzle the greens and tomatoes with a little olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar and a little sea salt and black pepper then top each one with a piece of chicken. Serve with a wedge of lemon on the side.

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