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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Which Came First, The Chicken Or The... Salad?

Throwing  various forms of cooked meat on top of  entree salads is nothing new. It seems every restaurant has a salad of some kind topped with grilled steak, pan-seared tuna, grilled shrimp, or blackened salmon included on thier menus.  And, of course, there is  the ubiquitious grilled chicken caesar salad.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those meat topped salads.  Nothing. I love them.  All of them.

However, Chicken Milanese delightfully reverses the order of things.  In the style of Milan, Chicken Milanese is parmesan breaded and pan-fried chicken topped with a lightly dressed salad of arugula. 

Intrigued, I decided to make it for dinner last night.  It was perfectly light for a hot summer evening and easy enough for a week night meal.

I took two boneless chicken breasts, butterflied the thicker tenderloin ends to open them up, placed them between plastic wrap, and pounded the breasts until thin and tender.

While a saute pan heated up with butter and olive oil, I prepared a three dish dredging station of  flour, beaten egg, and parmesan parsley lemon zest panko bread crumbs.

When the oil and butter combo heated to a sizzle , I dredged the garlic powder, salt, and pepper seasoned chicken breasts  in the flour, coated them with egg wash, and dropped them into the breadcrumbs,  pressing the coating on to adhere.

I carefully placed the breaded chicken breasts into the hot saute pan and pan-fried them one at a time until crisp and golden.  I held them in a low 225 degree oven while we had a few glasses of wine and awaited dinner.

Traditionally, Milanese is topped with an arugula salad.  I used a spring mix of baby arugula, red oak, baby spinach, and frisee.  Delicate leaves with soft bittery and peppery undertones.

After plating the crisp warm chicken, I tossed the spring mix with toasted almonds, capers, halved grape tomatoes, thinly sliced prurple onions, salt, pepper, a lighthanded lemon and olive oil  vinaigrette, and placed the salad on top of the chicken breasts.
Sliced room temperature window sill beefsteak tomatoes and lemon wedges finished the plate.

That was it.  

Michael and I were both totally surprised.  The salad was tender and boldly tart from the vinaigrette with stinging crunch from the onions.  The tiny capers popped with little briny mouth explosions while the halved grape tomatoes oozed with sweetness. Each bite of salad cut through the crisp fried rich parmesan herb-breadcrumbed chicken coating and created  a voluptuous mouthfeel when combined with the moist juicy chicken meat.  On every level, there was so much going on.

Chicken Milanese. A reversal of fortune.

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