cooking when i don’t feel like it: chicken milanese 



I suffer from a strange reaction to food – when I cook it, I don’t want to eat it and when I eat it, I don’t want to cook it.  Multi-homed satiety has its benefits and drawbacks.  Tonight was a drawback, since I was full enough from lunch that I didn’t feel like cooking dinner.  But I have two stomachs in the house that don’t cook and therefore expect to be fed regularly.  What do?

Chicken Milanese, that’s what.  It’s fun because I get to play with the food, but not labor-intensive and incorporates downtime, so I can wash the prep dishes during Intermission and don’t feel like the kitchen was hit with a hurricane when I’m done.

Gadgetry

  • Pizza pan, covered with tin foil (bottom layer) and paper towels (top layer)
  • 2 one-gallon plastic bags (cheap, not Ziploc)
  • Pie pan
  • Loaf pan
  • Saucepan
  • Frying pan, with 1/8″ layer of olive oil
  • Cookie sheet, lined with foil
  • Spatula
  • Fork

Meat

  • 1lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (I used rather large tenders)
  • Bag 1
  • Saucepan

Season the meat with salt and pepper, place it into Bag 1, then whack it flat with a saucepan.  Put that fucking meat tenderizer/food mallet away – a sauce pan has more surface area, so the force distribution is superior to any specialty gadget.  You won’t even dirty the saucepan.  If using whole breasts, you can cut each in half after pounding.  That’s why I like the large tenders, they come out nicely-sized.  Flattened breasts go into Bag 2.

Dredge

  • Bag 2: 1/4c flour, 1t salt, 1/4t pepper
  • Loaf pan: 1 egg, 1oz lemon juice, 1/2t cornstarch, beaten with a fork
  • Pie pan: 2c bread crumbs, 1/2c grated Paremsan cheese, 1T dried thyme, mixed

Close up Bag 2 with some air and give it a good shake.  I know it’s cute to do the flour dredge in a pan, but that’s just one more pan to wash.  A bag works better and uses less flour.

The loaf pan is full of meat glue.  You can use the fork to fish out the chicken from the bag and give it a dip in the glue then transfer to the pie pan, or use your fingers.  I prefer my fingers.

In the pie pan, cover the piece with breading from the sides and give it a good smoosh.  Transfer the piece to the cookie sheet lined with foil.

The chicken needs to rest for an hour, so the meat glue can latch onto the breading.  The USDA does not recommend leaving raw meat at ambient temp for that long, but I live dangerously.  It sat on my counter covered in paper towels while I tidied up and enjoyed a glass of Grgich Hills Napa Valley 2013 Fume Blanc.  It’s really delightful, especially at half the price of first bottle I had, in a hotel.  When If When If When I go back, I’ll bring a couple of bottles with me.  And a fresh-baked Frankenbaguette. And some deli meats from Marconda’s.

Anyway, the hour passed.

Put the frying pan on medium-high heat, put the pizza pan in the oven and turn the oven on to 225 degrees.  No, the paper towels will not burn – thank you, Ray Bradbury.  Fry the chicken 1-2 pieces at a time for 4 minutes on each side or until it’s the color you like, then transfer the pieces to the cookie sheet to hold for service.

When all is fried and done, you should have only the frying pan and the spatula left to wash.

This chicken is lovely on its own, but its real charm is its versatility.  You can get fancy and top it with various sauces: Béchamel, mornay, lemon caper, marinara sauce (and mozzarella), sausage gravy.  You can freeze some of the breaded chicken for later frying if you’re just feeding yourself or, if you’re like me, you lose your appetite after you cook.  My portion went into the fridge, and will be warmed in the oven tomorrow before I make a salad.

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