Dinner: December 19, 2010

I’ve been working on my perfect chicken cutlet recipe for what seems like ages, inspired by our many Bay Area friends-who-feel-like-family and their delicious tales of Bakesale Betty sandwiches. So I was a little tickled when, in the midst of much discussion and tweeting about a certain salad Anita (and I, despite never having tasted the original myself) fell hard for during her (and Cam’s) recent Boston visit, Anita deemed my cutlet “drool-worthy.”

I’ll probably continue to tweak this because, well, that’s what I do, but I was extremely happy with how these cutlets came out, and I think I’m finally ready to share my recipe with you.

Wishing you all a safe and joyful holiday – may you get everything you hope for and more.

Crispy Chicken Cutlets

2 whole skinless boneless chicken breasts, tenders removed, breasts pounded to an even thickness
grapeseed or other neutral oil for frying

for the brine:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
½ teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon Colman’s mustard powder

for the dredge:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
½ teaspoon hot paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon Colmans mustard powder

for the batter:
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder

Combine the ingredients for the brine in a lidded container or zip-top plastic bag, stirring or shaking to combine. Add the chicken to the brine, cover or seal, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Remove the chicken in its brine from the refrigerator about half an hour before cooking and set aside. Combine the ingredients for the dredge and the batter in separate individual containers. Remove the chicken from the brine, shaking off excess, then dip the chicken pieces in the dredge, making sure they are evenly coated. Dip the chicken pieces in the batter, shaking off excess, then dip them once more in the dredge before setting aside on a plate or platter. (They’ll look pretty shaggy, but you’ll get nice crisp layers of crust on the chicken once it’s cooked.)

Pour about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan (I used our cast iron skillet) and heat until shimmering. Add the chicken pieces to the hot oil and cook until the crust is golden brown and the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 170 degrees, flipping the pieces once (I find that using an offset spatula to do the actual flipping, with a pair of tongs to guide, works well – you can gently flip the pieces while keeping the crust intact). When the chicken is cooked, you can finish each piece with a sprinkle of flaky salt or chopped fresh parsley.

If you’re scaling up the recipe to serve more people, you can place the cooked chicken pieces on a rack set over a baking sheet and hold them in a low oven until you are ready to serve.

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