The first thing I made from the cookbook was this pounded-and-breaded fried chicken recipe - also a great first use for my new meat pounder! This is a much easier way to make fried chicken at home, since you don't need a crazy amount of oil and you don't have to worry about cooking the chicken through before the breading burns. It's dressed up with French flavors, although you can easily change up the breadcrumb flavoring if you like. Pounding the chicken makes it extra tender, and I was surprised at how moist it turned out - even though the piece of chicken was thin, it stayed super juicy. The breading is so flavorful - I've never tried Dijon mustard as part of a breadcrumb coating, and it works really well. Don't skip the squeeze of lemon juice on top - the acid is really necessary to bring all the flavors together. I served the chicken alongside crispy, creamy fennel gratin - one of my boyfriend's favorites!
Chicken Milanese with Dijon Mustard (adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup flour
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
1-1/2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
Oil (mix of vegetable and olive), to fry
Lemon wedges, to serve
1. Slice each chicken breast in half, butterfly-style, so that you have six thin cutlets of chicken. Use a meat pounder to pound the chicken to about 1/4-inch thick. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Line up three large plates on the counter. Place the flour on the first. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg whites, Dijon, oregano, garlic powder, Aleppo pepper, and lemon zest. Pour half onto the second plate, and reserve the rest. Finally, pour the breadcrumbs onto the final plate.
3. Dredge each piece of chicken the flour, then coat well in the egg white-Dijon mixture, and finally dunk into the breadcrumbs on both sides. Once you've done three pieces of chicken, add the remaining egg white-Dijon mixture to the middle plate and finish up the chicken. Pop the plate with the chicken into the fridge while you heat the oil. (Or, you can chill the chicken for up to one day.)
4. Heat two large non-stick skillets over medium-high heat. Fill each with about half an inch of oil - a mix of vegetable and olive oil. When it's hot - i.e. when a drop of water sizzles nicely - very carefully add the chicken, three pieces per skillet. Cook 3-4 minutes on the first side and then carefully flip and cook 2-3 minutes on the second side. The chicken should be golden brown.
5. Line a large plate with paper towels. When the chicken is cooked, transfer it to the plate. Cover with another layer of paper towels and blot away any excess oil.
6. Serve the chicken with a squeeze of lemon.