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Friday, December 16, 2011

Chicken Milanese with Roasted Garlic and Spinach Sauce

Well this week, I was the very lucky recipient of a wonderfully cool gift... a bottle of Meyer Lemon Olive Oil!  Nice, huh?  We should all have such thoughtful friends!!  This chicken Milanese needs a slightly lemony flavor, so I chose this as the first dish to try out my new oil.

Chicken Milanese translates as "chicken in the style of Milan."  This sounds fancy, but it's really just chicken breasts that have been butterflied and lightly flattened out, dipped in an egg wash, and an Italian breadcrumb and Parmesan mixture, then fried in butter (Italian style fried chicken). This dish is super-easy to make and very versatile, as you can top it with just about anything.  The crunchy breading is really light and the meat is moist and tender, since you only have to cook the flattened chicken a few minutes.   
                                             Click for Printable Recipe
Ingredients:
This is one of those touchy feely recipes where you sort of just add until it feels/tastes right, so please don't come unglued about the lack of measurements.  Most of these things are pantry staples, so we're going to pretty much just throw this together.
  • a (1.15 pound) pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins, trimmed
  • flour for breading
  • 2 eggs + milk for the egg wash
  • Italian breadcrumbs
  • butter and olive oil of choice (this is where I used the lemon olive oil)
  • a whole head of garlic + 2 more cloves
  • white wine
  • chicken broth
  • heavy cream
  • grape tomatoes
  • a couple cups of chopped fresh baby spinach
  • a big handful of grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt, pepper, dried basil
  • a package of cheese filled ravioli



Step-by-Step:
For our initial prep, we will start with pounding the chicken out evenly and fairly thin between two sheets of plastic wrap.  The plastic wrap will help keep it from tearing.  It's also best if you get all of your mise en place ready - get everything chopped and prepped:  tomatoes, spinach, breading station, get the garlic roasting.
This is my roasted garlic.  The roasted garlic is an entirely different beast than raw garlic.  It gets soft and buttery and the roasting takes out the "bite" that is characteristic of raw garlic.  This one is mellowwww.  To prep this, cut off the top of the whole bulb, drizzle the top with extra virgin olive oil, and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until you can squeeze the outside with your fingers and it feels nice and smooshy and soft.
Now that everything is prepped, let's get on with it.  Melt 4 Tbsp butter in a pan until it gets hot and starts foaming.  Add in the olive oil (either the regular one or something flavored like this lemon olive oil).  The addition of the olive oil will raise the smoking point of the butter and keep it from over browning so quickly.  And in this case, the lemon oil will provide a slight background flavor that will complement the finished dish.

Saute the minced, raw garlic in the oil about a minute.  Do not let it over-brown!  (mine almost did tonight as there was a lot going on in my kitchen at one point with my kids, neighbor kids, etc.)
Deglaze the pan with some dry white wine.  I have a bottle that I pretty much just keep in my fridge just for cooking...
Once the wine reduces a bit, add in some chicken broth or stock.  Of course it would be best to add a homemade stock here... but tonight is about quick and easy.  I added quite a bit of broth. I wanted a lot of sauce since I would be adding the ravioli to it in the end.
While the sauce is simmering on low on a back burner somewhere, lets get the chicken going.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then prepare a light coating on the chicken with your breading station.
1 -  dip in flour and shake off excess.
2 - dip in egg wash (a couple of beaten eggs with a bit of milk)
3 - dip in Italian breadcrumb mixture (breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese)
This is the breaded, raw chicken.
Now, in a different pan, add some oil for a shallow panfrying.  You can use olive oil or canola oil.  The oil needs to be HOT and shimmering before you add the chicken.  The very hot oil with seal the juices in the chicken while making the outside crispy.  (A NOT hot oil will make your chicken soggy and greasy - not good.)  It should immediately start sizzling when you put the meat in there.  Also, be careful not to overcrowd the pan.  That will bring down the oil temp too much as well.

So, only a couple of minutes on each side is all you need for tender, juicy chicken - thanks to pounding them out flat.  (Thanks to my kitchen elves who did this for me while I was at gymnastics with my daughter!)  Remove them to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Back to the sauce that we had simmering on low on the back burner....

Return the sauce to medium to medium high and add in a cup or so of heavy cream.  Let that incorporate and come up to temperature a couple of minutes.
Add in the roasted garlic.  All you do is pick up the whole roasted bulb of garlic and give it a squeeze.  The roasted cloves of garlic will just slide right out.  They should be nice and soft.  I just added them right to the pan and mashed them with the back of the spoon;  but if you prefer, you could mash them on a chopping board or something and then add them into the sauce.
Add about 2/3 of a pint of halved grape tomatoes.  Let them simmer down a couple of minutes.
Add in a big handful of grated Parmesan cheese.  Stir to incorporate well.
Stir in about 2 cups of chopped, fresh baby spinach.  It will seem like a lot, but shrink down so much!
Now just let all of these flavors hang out and get friendly for a while on low.  Meanwhile, I boiled my 5-cheese ravioli according to package directions (about 5 minutes).  Then drain and add to the sauce.  Stir gently so that you don't break them up.
At this point, you can add the chicken into the sauce, or serve the sauce on the side or over the top of the chicken.  I'm showing it on the side because otherwise, you couldn't see the details of the crispy coating.  But rest assured, I will be eating the together!  Now, give your chicken a gentle squeeze of lemon over the top and then garnish the whole dish with chopped fresh basil.  You could also use parsley, but I much prefer the flavor of the basil.  If you want to preserve the crunchiness of the chicken, you can serve everyone's dish with a lemon wedge so they can squeeze their own lemon.
A close up of the crunchy chicken cutlets......
A close up of the lovely, silky sauce.
Now!  Isn't that comforting?  Crunchy, tender, moist chicken, rich velvety sauce flavored with soft tomatoes and spinach, golden buttery roasted garlic and the brightness of the fresh basil.

Order the Menu Musings Cookbook!
 
Method:
For our initial prep, we will start with pounding the chicken out evenly and fairly thin between two sheets of plastic wrap.  It's also best if you get all of your mise en place ready - get everything chopped and prepped:  tomatoes, spinach, breading station, get the garlic roasting. 


To roast the garlic, cut off the top of the whole bulb, drizzle the top with extra virgin olive oil, and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until you can squeeze the outside with your fingers and it feels nice and smooshy and soft.

Melt 4 Tbsp butter in a pan until it gets hot and starts foaming.  Add in the olive oil (either the regular one or something flavored like this lemon olive oil).  The addition of the olive oil will raise the smoking point of the butter and keep it from over browning so quickly.  And in this case, the lemon oil will provide a slight background flavor that will complement the finished dish.

Saute the minced, raw garlic in the oil about a minute.  Deglaze the pan with some dry white wine.  Once the wine reduces a bit, add in some chicken broth or stock.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then prepare a light coating on the chicken with your breading station:  1.  dip in flour and shake off excess.  2. dip in egg wash (a couple of beaten eggs with a bit of milk). 3. dip in Italian breadcrumb mixture (breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese).  Now, in a different pan, add some oil for a shallow panfrying.  You can use olive oil or canola oil.  The oil needs to be HOT and shimmering before you add the chicken.  The very hot oil with seal the juices in the chicken while making the outside crispy.  (A NOT hot oil will make your chicken soggy and greasy - not good.)  It should immediately start sizzling when you put the meat in there.  Also, be careful not to overcrowd the pan.  That will bring down the oil temp too much as well.

So, only a couple of minutes on each side is all you need for tender, juicy chicken - thanks to pounding them out flat.  Remove them to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Back to the sauce that we had simmering on low on the back burner....Return the sauce to medium to medium high and add in a cup or so of heavy cream.  Let that incorporate and come up to temperature a couple of minutes.

Add in the roasted garlic.  All you do is pick up the whole roasted bulb of garlic and give it a squeeze.  The roasted cloves of garlic will just slide right out.  They should be nice and soft.  I just added them right to the pan and mashed them with the back of the spoon;  but if you prefer, you could mash them on a chopping board or something and then add them into the sauce.

Add about 2/3 of a pint of halved grape tomatoes.  Let them simmer down a couple of minutes. Add in a big handful of grated Parmesan cheese.  Stir to incorporate well. Stir in about 2 cups of chopped, fresh baby spinach.  It will seem like a lot, but shrink down so much!  Now just let all of these flavors hang out and get friendly for a while on low.  Meanwhile, I boiled my 5-cheese ravioli according to package directions (about 5 minutes).  Then drain and add to the sauce.  Stir gently so that you don't break them up.

At this point, you can add the chicken into the sauce, or serve the sauce on the side or over the top of the chicken.  I'm showing it on the side because otherwise, you couldn't see the details of the crispy coating.  But rest assured, I will be eating the together!  Now, give your chicken a gentle squeeze of lemon over the top and then garnish the whole dish with chopped fresh basil.  You could also use parsley, but I much prefer the flavor of the basil.  If you want to preserve the crunchiness of the chicken, you can serve everyone's dish with a lemon wedge so they can squeeze their own lemon.

Crunchy, tender, moist chicken, rich velvety sauce flavored with soft tomatoes and spinach, golden buttery roasted garlic and the brightness of the fresh basil.

What is Meyer Lemon Olive Oil?
Aromatic and sweet. Organic Meyer Lemons are crushed together with fresh hand-harvested California Mission olives to make this amazing extra virgin olive oil. Small batches of love. A flavor essential of Northern California.  This just might be the perfect finishing oil. Well balanced,wonderfully versatile, and with just the right amount of Meyer lemon juice added at pressing, it's absolutely delicious with chicken, grilled vegetables, and seafood perfectly balanced, wonderfully versatile, with just the right amount of lemon flavor. Absolutely delicious with chicken, grilled vegetables, and seafood. 
 

Please visit my Recipe Index for more delicious recipes that you can cook with/for your family.  Here are a few to get you started:
 

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