When I was in junior high, my mom gave me a cookbook that I just adored. It was a mesmerizing combination of easy Chinese, Italian and Mexican dishes, illustrated with massive photos and lots of cool food trivia. Seeing as the old school Betty Crocker Cookbook pretty much summed up our cookbook collection at the time, I was in heaven with this new world of food. The Chinese and Italian pages were dog-eared and smeared, with Two-Onion Pork Shreds with Black Bean Sauce competing with Chicken Milanese for most overused recipe. Decades later, Chicken Milanese has stood the test of time.
One of the things I love most about Chicken Milanese is that it's basically a chicken salad, but upside down. You pound the chicken flat so you can use it as a base for arugula and tomatoes dressed in balsamic vinegar and garlicy olive oil. And all of a sudden you can convince those salad-haters that they're eating a big hearty meal when in fact, ha! They're eating salad and they have no idea! Just because the chicken is on the bottom! It's really remarkable.
Anyway, this is a real crowd-pleaser. It's fast, tasty and requires just a few ingredients. For my iteration, rather than go through the effort of pounding the chicken, I just cut chicken breasts in half. It saves time and actually makes the dish healthier, since there's less surface area to coat with breadcrumbs and all the oil that comes with it. But if you're so inclined, pound your chicken flat before breading to get the authentic experience.
Knife, skillet, stovetop, 3 bowls, 2 plates
Half a red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 egg, with whites separated (no need for yolk in this recipe)
8 oz / 225 g breadcrumbs
2 large chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise so you're left with 2 thin filets
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbs butter
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 Tbs plus 1 Tbs olive or canola oil
6 large handfuls (1 6 oz / 170 g bag) arugula
1 cup / 225 g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lemon, quartered lengthwise
Combine red onion and balsamic vinegar in small bowl. This will quickly pickle the onion and leave it sweet and tender for your salad later.
Put egg white in a bowl and breadcrumbs on a plate. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Dip in egg white, then roll in breadcrumbs. Set aside on another plate.
Heat butter in skillet over medium heat til just bubbling. Cook garlic for about 2 minutes til brown. Remove garlic and set aside for the salad.
Add 2 Tbs oil to butter in pan and heat til shimmering. Cook chicken breasts, 4-5 minutes per side til browned and fully cooked through.
Add remaining oil to onions and vinegar and whisk with a fork til combined. Dress arugula, tomatoes and garlic chips with onions and dressing. Season with a touch of salt.
To serve, put 1 chicken breast on the plate and top with arugula salad. Serve a lemon wedge on the side to brighten up the chicken.