Saturday, January 30, 2016

Crisp Chicken Schnitzel With Lemony Herb Salad

When I think Schnitzel, I think Wiener Schnitzel which is German for "Viennese schnitzel.”  We all know that dish, a very thin veal cutlet, breaded and fried, drizzled with a sweetened vinaigrette and served with potato salad or parsley potatoes.  

We don’t normally associate Schnitzel with chicken. That is until NYTimes Cooking contributor Melissa Clark offered a recipe for the same and the recipe, thankfully, appeared in A.’s “What to Make for Dinner” newsfeed.

She made it for us on Wednesday night.  

We were so grateful. 

It was absolutely delicious.

Schnitzel, without the Weiner, is simply any meat, pounded thin, coated and fried.  In France, it’s escalope, in Latin America, milanesa, in Italy, parmigiana.  So, you see, the concept is consistent but it’s the sauce that makes the dish distinctive by country.  So, to make Chicken Schnitzel, just dress it with a sauce typically reserved for Weiner Schnitzel!

The trick to making an airy schnitzel is not to let the breadcrumbs stick to the meat but, rather, float on top of the meat.  This is achieved by dipping the cold cutlets in flour (the flour acts like a protective shield!), then eggs, THEN bread crumbs in preparation for frying.  And, when frying, move and shake the pan to encourage lots of air circulation.  Also, don’t overcrowd the meat because overcrowding lowers the oil temperature and that affects the crispiness.  Rule of thumb…fry only a few cutlets at a time.

Crisp Chicken Schnitzel With Lemony Herb Salad
By:  NYTimes Cooking

6 anchovy fillets
1 small garlic clove
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
7 to 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
½ cup flour
⅛ teaspoon cayenne
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 ¼ pounds chicken breast or thigh cutlets, pounded to 1/8-inch thick
Safflower, peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
2 quarts mixed baby greens (A. substituted with shredded Brussels sprouts)
2 cups soft herb leaves, like a combination of mint, tarragon, basil, parsley, cilantro, chervil, chives (try to use at least 3 kinds)
1 scallion, thinly sliced, including greens
Mince anchovies and garlic and mix with a large pinch of salt until you get a rough paste. Put it in bowl and whisk in the lemon zest, juice and another pinch of salt and some pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

Place eggs in one shallow dish, bread crumbs in another, and flour mixed with cayenne and nutmeg in a third. Season chicken cutlets generously with salt and pepper.

Heat 1/8 inch oil in a large skillet. While oil heats, dip cutlets one by one into flour (shake off any excess), then into eggs (ditto) and finally into the bread crumbs, taking care not to handle chicken more than necessary (hold meat by ends).

When oil sizzles when a pinch of bread crumbs is thrown in, add a chicken cutlet (or two if your skillet is large, leave plenty of room around them). Swirl pan so oil cascades over top of cutlet in waves. When bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes, flip and brown the other side, swirling pan (swirling helps create air pockets, giving you lighter schnitzel). Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking platter or baking tray and sprinkle with more salt. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Toss salad greens and herbs with just enough anchovy-lemon dressing to lightly coat them. Divide salad on serving plates and top with schnitzel. Drizzle with more dressing and garnish with scallions.

A. served with risotto.  We had a wonderful salad and homemade peanut butter cookies for dessert.  

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