September 20, 2012

Dispatches from the Bathroom Floor
(+ Chicken Milanese with Sage-and-Lemon-Butter Sauce)


         


Editor's Note:  A little something I wrote for you on Monday, my post-writing day, while lying on the bathroom floor - because I suspect that this, written in the midst of delirium, has just as much chance of being understandable as anything I would have written later in the week:

Okay, here’s the deal.  Today we’re all going to concentrate on how we’re lucky, because otherwise I’m not sure how I’m going to make it through the day.   I’ll go first.  I’m lucky because even though it's my first wedding anniversary and I’ve decided to spend it on the floor of what surely must be the first bathroom ever constructed with moving walls (because how else could they be spinning in such an unattractive fashion), thinking thoughts I’ve never thought before (mostly about how glad I am we never decided to wallpaper this room in stripes), I nonetheless have a husband, a wonderful husband, who is  not only keeping me supplied with both orange Gatorade AND mint tea, but is willing to make the countless trips to the microwave that are necessary to keep the tea exactly at body temperature, the better to sneak it past my esophagus, who has decided that this is the optimal time to play East German Border Patrol.


Now you.  Wait, no,  you’re a figment of my imagination.  Okay, I’ll do you too.  You’re lucky because even though right about now you were supposed to be reading a little essay about my wedding and the pterodactyls (don’t worry, I’ll fill you in later), and then you’d get the recipe for the cupca – blurgh.  Never mind.  A recipe.  Don’t worry about the details.  We’re not thinking about anything edible right now.  Ugh.  The point is, you’re missing out, and I’m sorry, but here’s why you’re lucky.  Because I’ve been holding on to some fantastic recipes, all photographed and sitting in draft mode, waiting for the perfect  time to use them.  And it turns out that the perfect time is when the bathroom walls are doing the Macarena all around you.  Besides, it’s not like there’s much else to do when you’re too dizzy to lift your head off the floor, unless you’re interested in evaluating the travesty that is your mopping skills.  Which I most decidedly am not.

So here’s a fabulous recipe for something amazing – okay, let’s be honest, that’s not heartfelt.  I’m not even going to tell you the name of this recipe, because thinking about the words themselves is making me writhe with nausea.  The word “food” itself is disgusting to me right now – have you ever noticed how gross a word it is?  All that “ooooo” sound.  Blugh.  Okay.  Just trust me when I say that when I made it I thought it was ungodly good, and the fact that I’d hurl a jar of q-tips at you if you offered it to me now is not indicative of how much you will enjoy it.  Promise.  At least one of us should have a happy stomach today.

But before I go, could I just give a quick shout out to Floor?  It’ll just be a sec.  Hey, Floor.  You’re my kind of guy.  You’re cool.  Like, literally cool.  And stable.  When I close my eyes (and mostly that’s what I’m doing today), I can feel that you are broad and wide and other measurements as well, and that unlike other local surfaces, you’re not going anywhere.  And I like that about you.  As soon as I’m back on my feet again, I’ll treat you better.  I swear.  There’s mopping in your future, Floor.

As for you, Walls, I’ve had just about enough of you.  You do some fine work in the field of privacy, but that’s no excuse for this recent behavior.  Gyrating all over like this is some sort of discotheque.  This is unwelcome…and to be completely  frank, Walls, it makes you look like a bit of a hussy.  It’s garish.  And if this was Downton Abbey (which it might be, since I’m not really certain about reality right now) you would be getting a lot of tight-lipped disapproval from Dame Maggie Smith.  So…give that some thought, Walls.



Editor’s Note: At this point, the essay ends abruptly, without any attempt at a conclusion or segue.  So…at least that’s pretty much par for the course.


P.S. – I’m totally fine now.  I’m not really sure what either that stream of consciousness or the illness was all about, but I suspect that we should all take a little more seriously the fine print on the Ibuprofen bottle which states that even if you’re carefully spacing your dosages 4 hours apart, you still need to stop at 6 pills a day.   
Public. Service. Announcement.








Chicken Milanese with Sage-and-Lemon-Butter Sauce
from Food & Wine
by Linda Meyers 

Sometimes I say that a recipe will produce one of the best things you've ever tasted, and you're allowed to treat that as hyperbole.  This is not one of those times.  Get into the kitchen forthwith.  I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what makes this chicken so awesome - really deconstructing it in my mind - and it comes down to three things:  (1) The chicken is pounded thin.  This means it cooks through evenly, but it also changes the texture of the meat, eliminating any stringiness that chicken might have.  It's almost velvety, if that makes any sense at all.  (2)  It's pan-fried.  Which pretty much explains itself, what with the deliciousness and the sealed-in juices and all.  But also?  Golden Brown.  Like, truly, a dinner the color of Aslan's mane and falling leaves and anything consumed at the state fair.  Perfection.   (3)  This sauce is beyond all human understanding.  Its deliciousness reaches drinkable levels.  Not that I'm encouraging that, but I wouldn't judge you.

Update 4/20/14:  By far the most common issue people have had with this recipe is the simmering time for the sauce.  Although the original recipe calls for the use of a medium pot and 20 minutes' cooking time, I've halved the recipe, used a 12-inch-wide, 3-inch deep skillet, and still found that it took 45 minutes to reduce.  I would recommend a wide, shallow cooking vessel to encourage evaporation and might even encourage you to make the sauce in advance and just reheat once the chicken is ready.  If you'd rather do it on the spot but have reduced cooking time, you might want to consider adding a bit of flour to the Shallots and Butter to add some thickening power.

Unsalted Butter  [ 6 tablespoons, cold, cut into 6 pieces ]
Shallots  [ 2, minced ]
Heavy Cream  [ 1 cup ]
Dry White Wine  [ 1 cup ]
Chicken Stock  [ 1 cup ]
Fresh Sage  [ chopped, 2 tablespoons ]
Lemon Juice  [ freshly squeezed, 2 teaspoons ]
Cayenne Pepper  [ 1 pinch ]
Salt  [ to taste ]
White Pepper  [ freshly ground, to taste ]

Seasoned Dry Bread Crumbs  [ 1 cup ]
Panko (Japanese Bread Crumbs)  [ 1/2 cup ]
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese  [ freshly grated,  1/4 cup ]
Lemon Zest  [ finely grated, from 1 lemon ]
Dried Thyme  [ 1 1/2 teaspoons ]
Eggs  [ 2 ]
Chicken Breast Cutlets  [ 8, 6 ounces each, pounded 1/4-inch thick ]
Salt  [ to taste ]
Black Pepper  [ freshly ground, to taste ]
Vegetable Oil  [ for frying ]
Fresh Parsley  [ chopped, 1/4 cup ]

Make the Sauce:
1.   In a medium pot over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the Butter
2.   Add Shallots and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
3.   Add Cream, Wine, and Stock.  Bring mixture to a boil.
4.   Simmer until mixture is reduced to about 1 1/2 cups.  [ This will take 20 minutes or more. ]
5.   Remove pot from heat; whisk in remaining Butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring well between each addition.
6.   Add Sage, Lemon, Cayenne, and Salt and Pepper to taste.  Cover and set aside.


Make the Chicken:
1.    Heat oven to 325 degrees.
2.   Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
3.   Lay paper towels on a baking rack.
4.   Mix Bread Crumbs, Panko, Cheese, Lemon Zest and Thyme.  Transfer to a plate.
5.   Beat Eggs, and season with Salt and Pepper.  Transfer to a shallow bowl.
6.   Season Chicken Cutlets with Salt and Pepper on both sides.
7.  Dip 1 Cutlet in Egg Mixture and remove, letting excess drip back in the bowl.  Lay cutlet in Crumb Mixture and, with dry hand, toss crumbs over the top to coat chicken.  Lay breaded cutlet on first prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining cutlets.
8.   Fill 2 large skillets with 1/4 inch of Oil.  Heat over Medium-High Heat until oil shimmers.
9.  Add two Breaded Cutlets to each pan.  Cook 1 minute.
10.  Lower heat to Medium and cook another 4 minutes, turning once.  Cutlets should be brown and crisp.
11.  Lay Cutlets on prepared paper towels to drain.  When drained, lay on second prepared baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.
12.   Adjust heat under skillets and repeat process for remaining Cutlets.
13.   Rewarm sauce over Low heat, if necessary, and serve cutlets with sauce and a sprinkling of parsley.


Serves 8.






35 comments:

  1. This looks wonderful!!! Definitely making it this week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sort of jealous...I wouldn't mind having this again this week. :) Let me know how it turns out!

      Delete
  2. What side dishes do you recommend for this meal? It looks delicious and I must try it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Above all, I would make sure you have a starch to mop up all the extra, awesome sauce. I'd be inclined to go with mashed potatoes, but I'm sure rice would be delicious, too. And then a veggie, because I'm told they're important for a balanced meal. If not a salad, then how about spinach? That's always nice with lemon. Hope it goes well!

      Delete
    2. I see angel hair pasta, preferably Dreamfields. Looks great.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, if you like pasta, I bet that would be great. Me, unfortunately? Not so much.

      Delete
  3. Fantastic! We love mashed potatoes around my house and rice is a staple as well! Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't know what happened buy mine didn't reduce down. It was very runny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, I had the same problem too, which is why I wrote "20 minutes or more." Mine took more like 45 minutes. There are different levels of simmer, of course, and the original writer could have intended something more intense than what I decided on - plus, my burners are notoriously ill-calibrated. So in the end I decided to write the recipe as the original author had written it, with the caveat "or more." On the plus side: the longer it simmers, the more delicious the house smells! :)

      Delete
  5. Melissa you are a terrific writer! I really enjoyed your 'essay" it lifted my spirits. I can't wait to try this wonderful looking, sounding recipe. Thanks for sharing!! Andrea

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Andrea! That made my day!

      Delete
  6. Thanks for this one. I am going to make this tomorrow night. It looks and sound very good. I love chicken and I love lemon. I think I am going to go with asparagus almandine as a vegie and mashed potatoes.

    Thanks again. Randy Winkler

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh my goodness - read your "anniversary" note. Been there, done that. After 43 years of marriage I STILL remember the first anniversary. Can't wait to try your recipe!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think the mashed potatoes could be too heavy for this dish. I agree with the angel hair pasta "capellini" Dececco is the best! Or.... roasted red bliss potatoes would be a nice touch. As far as veggies go... I think asparagus would be perfect as it goes so well with any lemon recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  9. This looks super yummy, but beware the nutritional content....know what you're getting into.

    Calories: 507.0; Total Fat: 28.8 g; Saturated Fat: 13.1 g; Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.4 g; Monounsaturated Fat: 12.0 g; Cholesterol: 191.1 mg; Sodium: 480.6 mg; Potassium: 165.0 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 17.4 g; Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g; Sugars: 1.6 g; Protein: 44.4 g

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's not very often that a blog that I come across makes me laugh out loud..... Thanks for the chuckle and the dish looks delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  11. This! It was this! This is what landed me here! I've been searching for a good lemon cream sauce for AGES. So far I've come up short. My hopes are high.

    Who invited the wet blanket? Thanks for the buzz kill, Tobie. (Kidding. I'm a dietitian and right there with you, Tobes.)

    Love your writing, Mrs. Bear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Molly. I really loved this sauce - I enjoyed the depth that the wine adds to it. Let me know how it turns out if you try it. :)

      Delete
    2. I started the recipe with two tablespoons of butter and eliminated the rest entirely (amazingly, it was NOT missed!) After softening the shallots, I whisked in two Tbsp flour and kept it moving for ~4 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. It thickened it up nicely. I also added a pinch of sugar for good measure, and ended up tossing the lot with some pasta (vegetarian). I was pretty pleased! Thank you for sharing!

      Delete
    3. Thank YOU for sharing, Molly! It's always great to hear what substitutions worked out well for people, so that other readers who are looking for similar options can try them out.

      Delete
  12. By the way, just saw the runny sauce comment...Perhaps it could be remedied by stirring a tablespoon of flour into the butter/shallots and cooking it for a few minutes before adding the liquids? I'll let you know how it goes.

    ReplyDelete
  13. That sounds like adding the 1 tbs of flour may work well especially with the 6 tbs of butter. Can't wait to try this, sounds yummy but may have to break this down for 2-4 people.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Why when I try to print this, does it only print a blank page where the recipe should be? I would like to try this but can't print it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. comment can be deleted...I figured it out. Sorry.

      Delete
  15. WOW!! I made this tonight with the slight change of a pork chop instead of chicken since we ate our quota of chicken for the week...the sauce is amazing..i'm trying to think of other things to use it with (aside from just sticking my face in it)...great dish! it will be in my repertoire of meals for sure..thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. The recipe sounds delish, the photograph beautiful and your blog here hysterical! I'll be back...for sure. I just want to read the fine print again on that bottle myself! Caio!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This was amazing! The sauce reduction took forever however and i did it at the end so i wouldn't be distracted. It was worth the wait though! One of the best meals I've made but it took me literally 2 hours total!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I know, that wait for the sauce is killer. But damn, the payoff is great!

      Delete
  18. I am wondering how this would turn out if the chicken were substituted with pork steaks? Any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love pork and lemon, and treating the pork like this recipe calls for sounds an awful lot like schnitzel - I'd say it's meant to be! Let me know how it turns out!

      Delete
  19. Made this last night and the chicken was delicious! I served it with asparagus as someone above suggested. However, the sauce was runny for me too. I thought about adding flour but was hoping it might get better on its own lol. Thanks for posting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Melanie! Yeah, it's definitely a common complaint. I have to admit that when I made the recipe I halved it (the complications of cooking for only two...) and used a very wide pan, and even so it took about 45 minutes to cook down. Obviously, any time you use a different thickening agent you can alter flavor or texture, but given people's comments to this recipe I'm thinking it might be worthwhile to give it a shot. Not everyone is willing to putter around the house for 2 hours while a sauce reduces!

      Delete
  20. I made this recipe following the instructions/ingredients exactly and I wouldn't change a thing. It is wonderful!!!

    ReplyDelete