The cookbook Sunday Suppers at Lucques is one that seems to come up often in my travels around the food blogosphere. While I don’t know much about the chef or the restaurant which spawned it, I have heard good enough buzz that I filed it away as something to check out for myself sometime.

So with a bookstore gift card in my pocket and seeking inspiration on a blustery day, I headed out at lunchtime and picked up a copy of the book, flipping through it as I ate soup and a sandwich at my desk. I was immediately taken by the gorgeous photos, and the recipes read like just the sorts of things we like to cook and eat – I knew I had a winner here.

cookbook holder

This time of year, any chicken we cook at home is generally roasted, and though we didn’t have all of the ingredients called for in the original dish at home, this recipe for crispy chicken paillards jumped out at me. Chef Suzanne Goin indicates in her recipe notes that chicken breasts aren’t normally one of her favorites, but that this preparation is a real crowd-pleaser, and as Mike and I dug into this dish last night, we could immediately see why – it’s a wonderful combination of flavors and textures, homey but elegant, and definitely something we’ll keep in rotation.

Dinner:  January 3, 2008

Chicken Paillards with Escarole and Caper Brown Butter
Adapted from a recipe by Suzanne Goin in Sunday Suppers at Lucques

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets or butterflied breasts
1/4 cup unbleached flour
2 extra-large eggs, beaten
4 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4-6 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 sprig winter savory
Pinch red chile flakes
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 head escarole, cored, rinsed and leaves separated
Juice and zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons capers
Kosher salt to taste

Flatten the chicken breasts to about 1/3 inch thickness. Dip them in the flour, then the egg, allowing excess to drip off. Combine the breadcrumbs, cheese and half the parsley in a shallow plate or bowl and dip the chicken in, pressing to coat evenly. Repeat until all chicken is coated.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, and then add two of the chicken breasts. Allow them to cook without moving them for 3 minutes. Turn heat to medium, and add a tablespoon of butter, swirling it around. Cook for another minute, and then gently flip each chicken breast. Allow the chicken to finish cooking on the second side until crumbs are browned and meat is just cooked through, then remove the first two breasts to a tray, lightly cover with foil, and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Once all of the chicken has been cooked, return the pan to medium heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil. Add the savory and a pinch of chile flakes and let them cook for a minute. Add the garlic and escarole, season with salt and cook until the escarole is just wilted. Transfer the escarole and garlic to a platter, squeeze a bit of lemon juice over it and top with the chicken.

Pour out any excess liquid from the pan and wipe it clean. Melt the remaining butter in the pan until brown and nutty-smelling. Remove from heat, let it sit for a moment, then add the remaining lemon juice, zest capers and remaining parsley, swirling around to combine. Taste and adjust salt if necessary, then spoon over the chicken and escarole.

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