Chicken Cutlet Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Salads are great. Or should say, a well made salad is great. I’ve had some pretty bad salads in my day and it’s really a shame because a salad can be such a delicious meal. All you need to do is put a little thought and effort into making it great and you’ll be a salad making pro. The formula is pretty simple. Use a few really good quality ingredients with a good freshly made vinaigrette or dressing and maybe a little crunch if you can. That’s all it takes. You need a go to salad, this recipe right here is mine.

Chicken Cutlet Ingredients:

4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, Thinly Pounded (Get some good chicken, it really makes a difference)

1 1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour

2 Eggs

1 Cup of Panko Break Crumbs

1 Cup of Italian Bread Crumbs

1 Tablespoon Each: Dried Oregano, Dried Basil, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Paprika

Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil

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First thing to do is pound out your chicken breast so it all the same thickness. Then set up your breading station.

Get out a big ziplock bag and add the flour to it. Season it generously with salt and pepper and that shake it up to combine.

In big enough bowl to fit the chicken, add the eggs with a teaspoon and whisk it together. Season it generously with salt and pepper.

In a third bowl, mix together the panko,  the Italian bread crumbs, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper.

Get your chicken out and a plate to park your breaded chicken and your station is ready to go.

First step, “dredge” the chicken (simply means fully covering your chicken in the flour). Throw all the pieces in the ziplock bag, close it up and shake it like crazy. Usually when I do it, the chicken tends to fold over itself and there are some spots left flourless. Just move the chicken around in the bag to make sure its fully covered. Then shake off the excess flour and add it to the egg mixture. Again, fully cover the chicken in egg then transfer it the bread crumbs. Push the bread crumbs into the chicken and make sure that it thoroughly breaded. Store it on a plate while you bread the rest of the chicken and if you’re not using them immediately, put them in the fridge.

On medium heat, cover the bottom of a large saute pan and add a knob of butter.

When the oil is hot and the butter is melted, add your chicken. You don’t want the oil too too hot or else you’ll burn the breading and the chicken won’t cook through so be mindful of that. Cook it on that side for around 5-6 minutes…

…or until it looks golden, brown and delicious, like this.

Once its browned on both sides and cooked through (if you don’t trust yourself and you’re worried its not cooked, just cut into it and take a peek), transfer it to a paper towel lined plate.

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Salad Ingredients: Serves 2

2 Chicken Cutlets

A Bag of Mesclun Salad, Washed

1 Carrot

2 Bell Peppers

1-2 Cups of Cherry Tomatoes

1/4 Cups of Pine Nuts

Goat Cheese

Balsamic Vinaigrette: I’ll give you a rough recipe simply because I make it by eye every time. Just use the 2-1 ratio I explain below.

1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 Cup Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon of Dijon Mustard

1 Tablespoon of Honey

Salt & Pepper

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To make the vinaigrette, use a whisk to combine the balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper in a bowl.

While you’re whisking, slowly stream in olive oil (or canola/vegetable oil, whatever you’ve got). The ratio for vinaigrette’s is about 1 part vinegar to 2 parts oil. I use a half cup of vinegar so I streamed in a cup of oil. You should be pretty vigorous with the whisking, the idea is to emulsify the oil with other ingredients. There’s nothing worse than a vinaigrette has the oil and vinegar separated, that’s just nonsense.

Once its combined, taste it, is should taste good (obviously) but should have a little bite. You want it a to taste a little stronger then you think because it mellows out once you combine it with the salad so don’t worry. Put it to the side and put your salad together.

Slice your cherry tomatoes in half and put off to the side.

Next, thinly slice (or julienne) the bell peppers. To do this, slice the top and a tiny bit off the bottom. Then make a slice so that you can flatten the whole pepper out into a big strip. Take your knife and trim the inside of the pepper so that you cut out the ribs and the core. This should leave you with straight pepper flesh, no ribs, no seeds. Then flatten the pepper out against the cutting board and slice the peppers in to strips.

For the carrots, I like to shave thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler. Use the peeler to remove the outside skin of the carrot and then hold it down on the counter and shave.

This is an optional move because pine nuts cost a stupid amount of money. You can use any other nuts you want or you could just not use nuts…but they are good for you and crunchy and tasty so you should probably think about using them. Just put them in a dry pan and toast them over medium heat until the brown and start to give off a nutty aroma but they will burn if you don’t keep moving them. This is usually where I practice tossing food in a pan. But seriously, be careful, they will burn so watch out.

Slice up your chicken real nice.

Usually I would mix the salad in a bowl to get the vinaigrette mixed up really well but I didn’t do it here. If you feel so inclined, its a lot easier to eat if you get the salad “dressed” (the term chefs use for salad that’s been tossed in dressing) before you plate it. Otherwise put everything on a bed of salad and pour the vinaigrette all over the place and top it with some of the nuts.

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