Chicken Milanese with Summer Heirloom Tomato Salad
This classic dish is perfect for lunch or dinner, for one or a dozen!
People often don't think of Milanese as seasonal, but I surely do. Vine-ripened colorful tomatoes, basil, and tender, fresh lettuces from the farmer's market . . . these are summer staples. Traditionally a peppery arugula is featured in the tomato salad that tops the meat, but using sweeter, lighter lettuces is equally scrumptious and beautiful. Milanese is most famously made with veal, though pounded chicken breast is a base just as well-matched for this rainbow summer salad. Come fall, try my Autumn Veal Milanese.
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; dry measuring cup; measuring spoons; mixing bowls; fork; (3) wide shallow bowls; cast iron skillet or large sauté pan (with straight sides); tongs; platter; paper towels; large mixing bowl
4 chicken breasts, pounded thin (scaloppine) ½ cup flour 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper 2 eggs, lightly beaten 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs white sesame seeds vegetable and olive oil for frying
lemon wedges for garnish
tender lettuce leaves (butter, green leaf, etc) 1 small red onion or 1 large spring onion bulb, diced 3-4 heirloom tomatoes, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 small bunch basil leaves juice of 1 lemon 3-4 tablespoons olive oil kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
balsamic reduction for garnish
1. To make the chicken, combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a wide, shallow bowl and set aside. Then beat the egg with a fork in a wide, shallow bowl and set aside. Put the breadcrumbs in a wide, shallow bowl and set aside. From left to right, line up the seasoned flour, egg mixture, and breadcrumbs, respectively.
ILOC tip: since it's summer, use leftover hamburger or hot dog buns to make fresh breadcrumbs. Simply place in a food processor and blend! It's all about technique, not torture!
2. Dredge one piece of chicken in the seasoned flour and shake off excess. Then dip the flour-coated chicken into the egg mixture, then directly into the breadcrumbs. With a dry hand, toss well to coat and set aside. Repeat with the remaining chicken scaloppine.
“Breading is very procedural. It can be a messy proposition if you don’t follow the ILOC way: wet hand, dry hand! ”
Breading Is As Easy As 1-2-3
You need three bowls: one shallow bowl with flour and seasonings, a second shallow bowl with eggs and other wet ingredients, and a third shallow bowl with breadcrumbs. Moving from left to right is key, and so is keeping one hand dry and one hand wet. That is, flour the food with your left hand (dry), but dip it in egg with your right hand (wet). Move the food from the egg, shaking off excess, to the breadrcumbs using your wet, right hand. Dredge the food in the breadcrumbs with your dry, left hand and move it to a pan or plate. Never put your dry hand in the eggs, or your wet hand in the flour or breadcrumbs.
3. Heat 1 inch of equal parts vegetable and olive oils in a cast iron skillet or large sauté pan over medium-high heat until the surface begins to shimmer. To test if the oil is hot, carefully lower the tip of one chicken scaloppine into the oil. If the chicken sizzles and begins to brown, the oil is ready any you may lower the chicken into the fat. If nothing happens, the oil is not yet hot, so remove the meat immediately.
4. Depending on the size of your pan, fry 2 pieces of chicken at a time in two batches. Fry on one side for 2-3 minutes, or until the bottom and edges are golden brown. Turn each scaloppine carefully with tongs in the order in which they entered the pan, and fry for another 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked.
5. Remove the chicken to a large platter or cutting board lined with paper towels to drain the fat.
6. Now assemble the salad. Tear lettuce leaves into 1-inch sized pieces. Add to a mixing bowl with tomatoes, red onion, and basil. Stir in the lemon zest and olive oil. Season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
"I like to use heirloom tomatoes of varying colors like red, yellow, orange, and green. It makes the season of summer explode on the plate!"
7. Top the chicken Milanese with the salad and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
Makes 4 servings.