We're always looking for something new to do with chicken. This Chicken Milanese is a simple, classic Italian dish we love — a thin, breaded chicken cutlet that is cooked until juicy and crisp, topped with a colorful, healthy, summery salad. It's easy and delicious, a whole meal on one plate.
The only vaguely difficult thing with this recipe is making sure the chicken breasts are of even thickness (of course, you could buy thin-sliced cutlets, but then they won't be very big; you'll need at least two per person). We have avoided making this at home precisely because we don't want to make a racket banging on chicken breasts. But really, it's not that big of a deal. Grab a small, heavy pot, put a piece of parchment paper, thick plastic wrap, or aluminum foil on top of the chicken breast, and hammer away. Fewer whacks with the whole surface of the pan seem to work best.
Once you've pounded out your chicken, you've done most of the work. Because the cooking is quick and easy, and the salad can be tossed ahead of time and dressed right before you serve the meal.
And oh, the salad. You can really put anything in it, but this combination was divine. We had fresh corn, red and orange cherry tomatoes, slices of fingerling potatoes, hearts of palm, and a sprinkling of ricotta salata. The whole thing was dressed in a lemony dijon vinaigrette and piled on top of our chicken. Beautiful and delicious.
I re-tested this recipe and found it to be one of the most delicious things I've cooked in a long time. (Elizabeth's taste is impeccable!) At first it looked intimidating: A big salad, with separate cooked components, and then pan-fried chicken (I do very little frying). But it took less than an hour to assemble and cook, and the final result was scrumptious. The chicken was perfectly tender and juicy, with a crisp crust, and the salad was sweet and salty, the perfect complement. I added a little fresh basil to the salad, which really worked.
I also point out in the recipe that you can cut the chicken breasts in half, to make two smaller portions. Easier to handle and to fry. Trust the timing in this recipe, too; as long as your chicken breasts aren't more than 3/4 inch or so thick, they should cook just fine in about 8 minutes. - Faith
Chicken Milanese with Corn & Tomato Summer Salad
For the salad:
5 to 6 fingerling potatoes, about 1/3 pound
1 ear fresh corn, unshucked
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3/4 cup hearts of palm, sliced
2 large handfuls baby lettuce or arugula, washed and dried
Handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
For the vinaigrette:
1/2 lemon, juiced, about 1 1/2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper pepper
2 ounces ricotta salata
For the chicken:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, about 1 3/4 pounds
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/4 cup olive oil
Bring a small pot of salted water to boil. Ready a bowl of ice water to the side. Add the unpeeled fingerling potatoes to the pot and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until one can be sliced in half easily. Remove the potatoes from the pot with a slotted spoon and put in the ice bath for 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Remove, pat dry, and slice into 1/4-inch rounds.
Cook the ear of corn, in its husk, in the microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes. Remove, allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then shuck. Cut the kernels off the cob. Toss the kernels with the sliced potatoes, sliced tomatoes, hearts of palm, lettuce, and basil (if using).
Make the vinaigrette. Combine the lemon juice, vinegar, and mustard in a bowl and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking vigorously.
Set aside the salad and vinaigrette until the chicken is cooked.
If desired, cut each chicken breast in half, to form two 4-ounce portions. Pound each chicken breast until it is of a roughly even thickness, about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick.
Pour the beaten eggs into a shallow pie plate. Pile the breadcrumbs onto a plate or in another pie plate and season with salt and pepper, mixing in the seasoning with your fingers.
Heat the oil in a very large (14-inch) skillet over high heat. Working with one chicken breast at a time, dip it into the eggs, then allow the excess to drip off. Place it in the breadcrumbs and coat on both sides, then gently lay the chicken breast into the pan. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts. Cook the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side, flipping carefully with tongs, until the breadcrumbs are a deep golden color and crispy. Remove the chicken from the pan, set on a plate, and squeeze the lemon juice over them.
To serve, toss the salad with the vinaigrette. Place one chicken breast (or two smaller portions) on each plate and top with the salad. Crumble the ricotta salata on top of each salad and season with salt and pepper.
Related: 10 Uses for Ricotta Salata
(Originally published 2009-09-03)
(Images: Faith Durand)