East Meets West

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.


Take Comfort

Dinner: November 14, 2010

Things have been quiet in this little corner of the Internet, but there has been plenty of cooking happening in our kitchen. I’ve skewed pretty heavily toward comfort food dinners of late, despite, or perhaps because of, my long workdays and the fact that a stubborn bug I thought I’d conquered has come back with a vengeance. The dishes that appeal to me these days are the culinary equivalent of a big chunky sweater, a fleece blanket, a roaring fire sending forth the earthy aroma of woodsmoke, something to force the chill from my bones and warm me to my toes. Braises and stews, creamy starchy sides, our enameled cast iron cookware has gotten a workout.


I wrote up a spin on Mario Batali’s “cacciatore” ages ago, and with a Pat’s Pastured Poulet Rouge in our fridge, one of many goodies we brought home from Saturday’s Wintertime Farmers’ Market, I decided a do-over was in order. There’s a bit of prep involved at the start, breaking down the bird, browning it in batches, soaking dried mushrooms and sautéing fresh, building layers of flavor in your pot, but once everything is in the oven with its parchment cap in place, you can kick back with a Negroni and enjoy the aromas wafting your way. Served over a creamy parmesan polenta, this is comfort food of the highest order.

You can get my recipe at food52.

No-sweat Cooking, Day 5

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

31 dishes, 31 days – I’m cooking my way through Melissa Clark‘s “No-Sweat Cooking” from the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. And to those of you who made your way over here via rachaelraymag.com, welcome!

I love remixing leftovers, so when planning out my first week of No-Sweat Recipes, I decided to schedule this Vietnamese Chicken Salad to take advantage of the leftover roast chicken from Tuesday night’s Chicken Tonnato.

local + exotic

This is exactly the kind of recipe I love – fairly free-form, easily adaptable to individual taste, and far, far more than the sum of its parts. This salad was a real celebration of the bounty of our farmers’ markets, as everything but the lime juice and fish sauce came from either the Hope Street market at Lippitt Park, or from the Boston Public Market in Dewey Square.

my own "coleslaw mix"

I opted to skip the coleslaw mix and shred some locally grown cabbage and carrots I had on hand instead, and I added scallions and slivers of fresh chile pepper to the mix as well. This was easily the most delicious thing we’ve eaten during this project so far, the sassy dressing playing off the crunchy vegetables and bits of moist chicken. I served our salad on a bed of soft butter lettuce leaves which I ended up using to scoop up bites of the salad, and I tossed the leftovers with softened cellophane noodles for a future lunch. Mike said he’d happily eat this once a week for as long as the ingredients are in season, and I’m right there with him. Great stuff, and it couldn’t be easier to put together.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Get the recipe: Vietnamese Chicken Salad

No-Sweat Cooking, Day 3

Dinner: July 27, 2010

31 dishes, 31 days – I’m cooking my way through Melissa Clark‘s “No-Sweat Cooking” from the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray

I’ve long been intrigued by the classic Italian dish Vitello Tonnato, but I had yet to try it or anything similar until last night, when I put together Melissa Clark’s Rotisserie Chicken Tonnato with Tomato Salad for our no-sweat dinner. The combination of roast chicken with a creamy tuna and anchovy sauce might sound odd, but the sauce is a classic for a reason – it’s simply delicious. It’s also dead easy – just combine the ingredients in the food processor, give them a whirl, and voila.

from the garden

The tomato salad was a delightful foil for the chicken, the acidity of the tomatoes and the fresh bite of the herbs cutting through the rich sauce. I had ferried home a mixed pint of tiny tomatoes from Kimball’s Fruit Farm at the Boston Public Market for the salad, but I was tickled to add the first of our home-grown gems to the mix.

tomato salad

Full disclosure: I didn’t use a rotisserie chicken for this, instead opting for a Pat’s Pastured bird roasted at home – not exactly no-sweat, but Mike took care of the roasting in the afternoon, the crispy chicken skin his reward. We both agreed the finished dish was worth the extra step.

Chicken Tonnato with Tomato Salad

Get the recipe: Rotisserie Chicken Tonnato with Tomato Salad

Buffalo Stance

Dinner: July 13, 2010

(To those of you who have found your way over here via thekitchn, welcome!)

The mercury has dropped a bit in the last week, but I’m still stuck on big, bright, crunchy salads for dinner. I’ve accumulated a ton of gorgeous vegetables between our regular Saturday farmers’ market in Providence and the two I spin through in Boston during the week, and I really can’t think of a better way to put them to use.

Buffalo-style chicken salad

I’ve made a variation of this salad for years, with planks of chicken either breaded and fried or simply grilled or roasted, tossed with my version of “wing sauce” and served with lots of crunchy vegetables and my homemade buttermilk blue cheese dressing (the sauce and dressing recipes can be found here). Last night’s version had its chicken fried crisp, served on a bed of butter lettuce from Kimball’s Fruit Farm, shredded red cabbage, sliced radishes and shredded carrot (also from Kimball’s), chunks of juicy, ripe Woodstock Farm tomato, and cutting celery from our garden (via City Farm). It’s the perfect thing for when I’m craving the flavor of that classic bar snack but want a slightly lighter take on it.