Chicken always gets a bad rap: it's either declared boring, bland, or just plain bad. Well not in my book. Granted I don't cook the same few recipes day in and day out, but still, I always enjoy it when I make it.
I especially love breading chicken, whether it's for chicken Parmesan, Milanese, or my signature Provencal. No matter the variation, the steps are always the same—flour, then egg, then breading. Cook until golden. It's not exactly rocket science, at least once you get the hang of it.
Feeling in the mood to experiment, I decided to stretch my sea legs the other day and coat my breaded chicken with mayonnaise instead. Before you balk at that idea, mayonnaise is basically just a more delicious version of eggs and oil, so it isn't that different from what you'd normally use. (Except that I've been known to lick a mayo-covered spoon. I can't say the same about raw eggs.) I also added a squeeze of lemon and my southern go-to, Worcestershire sauce, to up the flavor ante, and I packed the panko with Parmesan and fresh herbs.
I secretly went in for a bite before supper, only to find myself scarfing down a whole dang piece. The chicken was moist, crispy, and more complex than any other breaded version I have made. I was immediately sold. You can guarantee that mayonnaise will be my new "secret" chicken ingredient from here on out. You've got to taste it to believe!
Served with baked mac and cheese and an arugula salad? Let's just say I got no complaints from the peanut gallery...
Herbed Panko ChickenServes 4 to 6
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 heaping tablespoon freshly minced parsley*
Olive oil, for cooking
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 250°F.
Butterfly the chicken breasts into halves and pound each thin. Slice each flattened cutlet crosswise into 2 or 3 pieces depending on size. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper.
In a shallow bowl or pan, stir together mayonnaise, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. In a separate pan, combine panko, Parmesan, and parsley.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large fry pan over medium high heat until oil is very hot (but not smoking) and glides around easily.
Rub each piece of chicken with a dollop of mayonnaise mixture so it is completely covered but not gloppy. Dredge mayonnaise covered chicken into panko mixture so it is well-coated in breading. Working in batches and making sure not to crowd the pan, add the chicken and cook until both sides are golden brown and crispy, about 3-4 minutes per side. Check to make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through.
Place cooked chicken in preheated oven while sautéing the remaining batch(es). Hold in the oven until serving.
*Any mix of fresh herbs would be good. Try oregano, tarragon, or a mix of all three.
(Images and recipe by Nealey Dozier)