Monday, January 23, 2012

Chicken Schnitzel with Smashed-Fried Herbed Potatoes

Last week, we saw a guest blog on Design Sponge for the perfect schnitzel, written by the talented food stylist and photographer pair behind the Israeli blog Matkonation

The soft, striking photography—and our own vivid memories of eating perfectly cooked, crispy schnitzel spiked with tangy lemon—started a craving and inspired us to make our version for dinner that evening.

Over the years, we've developed a few tricks for making a perfectly flavorful, crispy and tender schnizel that's good and good for you.

The addition of lemon zest and fresh thyme to the bread crumbs adds a bright punch of flavor.  And we up the nutritional value by using whole wheat flour and panko bread crumbs.  By starting the schnitzel in a little bit of olive oil and butter on the stovetop and then finishing in the oven, we achieve the super-crispy crust and succulent center of perfect schnitzel without deep frying.

Here’s the recipe, along with our version of Lola's smashed-fried herbed potatoes.  Delicious.  And heart-warming.  Enjoy with a fresh green salad, preferably with someone you love.

Chicken Schnitzel

Serves 4

2 large chicken breasts (preferable organic or humanely raised), about 1 ¼ pounds
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 egg
Dash hot sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Zest of one lemon
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 - 3 teaspoons butter
2 – 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut each chicken breast in half and pound until very thin.  This is a bit easier if you place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a mallet. 

Prepare the coating.  Get out three large shallow bowls.  To the first bowl, add the whole wheat flour and season with sea salt and pepper.  To the second bowl, whisk together the egg, hot sauce and Dijon mustard.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  To the third bowl, whisk together the whole wheat panko bread crumbs, fresh thyme and lemon zest.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

Coat each of the chicken breasts.  Dip one chicken breast in the flour, turning to coat, then in the egg, then in the panko bread crumbs, making sure the chicken breast is fully coated. 

If you use one hand for dry ingredients and one hand for wet ingredients, you will prevent doughy fingers. 

Set coated chicken breast aside on a plate and repeat with remaining breasts.  For the best, crispiest result, refrigerate for about an hour, to let the coating set.  If you don’t have time, then go ahead with the recipe.  It will still be great.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add butter and olive oil.  After butter melts and begins to foam, add the chicken breasts to the pan.  Be sure not to crowd the pan.  If the pan is too small to hold all of the breasts with room on each side, fry them in batches.  Cook the chicken breasts until deeply brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Place pan in the oven to continue cooking until chicken breasts are cooked through, about 5 minutes, depending on thickness.  Chicken breasts should be firm to the touch. 

Serve with lemon wedges.

Smashed-Fried Herbed Potatoes

This recipe was inspired by the smashed-fried potatoes served at Tom Douglas’s restaurant, Lola, in Seattle. Mix up the herbs depending upon the rest of the menu—try rosemary, thyme, dill or tarragon.

Serves 4

12 baby potatoes, such as baby Yukon gold
2 – 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place baby potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about 12 – 15 minutes, depending upon their size.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly.  With the flat side of a chef’s knife, flatten each potato slightly to smash it.  The inside of the potato should be creamy and soft.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil and smashed garlic cloves.  Cook garlic about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.  Remove garlic from oil and discard. 

To the garlic-scented oil, add red pepper flakes.  Increase heat to medium-high.  Add smashed potatoes and season with sea salt and black pepper.  Cook potatoes, about 2 – 3 minutes each side, until potatoes are browned and crispy. 

While potatoes are cooking, mix together the lemon zest and fresh parsley. 

Once potatoes are done, toss smashed-fried potatoes with lemon zest and parsley mixture.  Serve hot.  

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