Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Family dinner success: herb-crusted chicken cutlets

One of the only times I really lament having to make dairy-free family dinners is when I think about chicken parmesan. There's just something so delicious and soul-satisfying about that dish...especially when it's homemade. I've done dairy-free spaghetti and meatballs, even dairy-free pesto, but I thought it would be impossible to attempt chicken parmesan without the parmesan.

Then I stumbled across this recipe from Rachel Ray. I immediately printed it out and ran to the grocery store. It was one of those recipes that I knew would be a crowd pleaser, and it was indeed. The trick that makes the chicken extra tasty is that you make your own breadcrumbs out of a toasted baguette. It definitely makes the dish worlds better than it would have been with boxed breadcrumbs.

I didn't read the recipe thoroughly, and accidentally processed the bread in the food processor before toasting it. But when I figured out my mistake I just went ahead and stuck the breadcrumbs in a pan and toasted them that way, stirring them a few times until they were evenly browned. Personally I think this is a case of a "mistake gone right" because it meant that all of the bread was evenly toasted and extra-crunchy.

Here is my version of Rachel's recipe, with a few minor modifications, and a little more user-friendly (in my humble opinion)

Chicken Cutlets with Herbs (adapted from Rachel Ray)


1/2 loaf of baguette bread (day old is fine)
4 chicken breasts, cut in half crosswise if they are thick, pounded until 1/4 inch thick
salt and freshly ground pepper
all-purpose flour, for dredging
1 large egg
several sprigs fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped
2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
handful of fresh chives, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
olive oil, for sauteing cutlets


Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Tear baguette into pieces and put in a food processor. Pulse until ground into breadcrumbs. Place the breadcrumbs on a shallow pan/cookie sheet. Toast in the oven until deep golden brown. When they are toasted, pour into a shallow dish and add the herbs, poultry seasoning, and some salt (how much salt you use should depend on whether or not your poultry seasoning contains salt).

Put flour into a shallow dish. In a separate shallow dish, beat the egg with a little water. Create an "assembly line" of dishes next to the stove: flour, egg, then seasoned breadcrumbs.

Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour, then coat in egg, then coat in breadcrumbs. Saute in the pan until golden and cooked through, 3-4 minutes on each side. You may need to add more oil when you flip the chicken...don't be stingy with the oil, as that's what will give the chicken a nice golden crust.

I served the chicken alongside a simple salad of red lettuce, cucumbers, tomato and avocado. It would be equally good served over pasta. The other nice thing about this recipe is that it's a great way to use up a day-old baguette and whatever herbs you happen to have on hand or in your garden. The rosemary was key (and I loooove rosemary), but I'm sure the thyme and chives could be swapped with something else without changing the flavor too dramatically.

This definitely will be made time and time again in my house.

1 comment: