Comfort food

August 23, 2007

Still in the midst of my menu-writer’s block, I flipped aimlessly through an old issue of Everyday Food. I was willing the season to change — the issue happened to be a Sept/Oct one from a couple years ago. Anyway, something caught my eye, and it made it onto the Monday night spot. How do I so easily forget about good ol’ breaded pan-fried chicken?

This is not the fried chicken your grandmother (or, in my case, KFC) used to make. No bones, no lard, no quart of smoking oil. It is shamefully easy, and so, incredibly, delicious:

Breaded Chicken Cutlets

Pick up your boneless, skinless chicken cut of choice (I always go for the thighs). If you get whole thighs or breasts, you might want to cut them into smaller pieces, like tenders. Then, get out two plates and a shallow bowl. In plate #1, stir together 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. In your shallow dish, whisk 1 large egg with 1 Tbsp water and an another pinch of salt. In your other plate, stir together 1 cup of bread crumbs*, about a 1/4 tsp black pepper, and about 1/2 tsp salt. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add a teaspoon or two of olive or vegetable oil. Then, one piece at a time:

  1. Coat the chicken in the flour mixture. Shake off the excess.
  2. Dip the chicken in the egg mixture. Shake off the excess.
  3. Dredge the chicken in the bread crumbs. Shake off excess, and add it to your pan.

Let the chicken get nice and golden brown on one side, then flip it. These cook in anywhere from 4-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pieces. You might have to cook it in batches, depending on the size of your pan. Add a little more oil in between batches, as necessary.

The recipe I saw called for an olive relish to top the chicken, and it was divine. But I ate the leftovers with ketchup, and it was none the plainer. Finger-lickin’ good, indeed.

*Homemade breadcrumbs are the best here (the variation in texture works great in breading chicken). If you have a food processor or blender, they’re easy: next time you have a baguette or other dinner bread that sits around too long and gets dry, stick it in the freezer (if it’s a lot of bread, cut it into quarters before you freeze it). When you need breadcrumbs, take a bit of frozen bread and thaw it in the toaster oven or microwave. Break it into smaller pieces and process into crumbs.
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