Parmesan chicken topped with a salad is one of our favorite Ina Garten recipes. Often it’s the recipe I go to when I want a dinner that’s not complicated but guaranteed to be delicious every time.
Recently I received my copy of Ina’s latest cookbook Make It Ahead and already I can tell I’m going to love this book. It’s full of Ina’s normal solid, no nonsense advice and no-fail tasty recipes that we’ve come to expect from her plus they all can be made ahead.
This recipe for Parmesan chicken topped with a green salad could have easily been in her new Make It Ahead book. If you let the chicken rest on a rack in the refrigerator for about half an hour it helps to dry the coating so it won’t steam when sautéing. The vinaigrette for the salad can be made a couple of days ahead and left to chill in the refrigerator. Salad ingredients can be cleaned and assembled in advance, so the only thing left to do at the last minute is to brown the chicken (which does require a bit of attention) and toss the salad.
This chicken recipe is similar to a family favorite I’ve made for years – my father’s unfried chicken here. The only major difference is that this chicken is pounded flat plus there’s Parmesan cheese in the bread crumb coating. My father always added several generous shakes of hot sauce such as Tabasco to his egg mixture for extra flavor and I like to do the same. I've used our house vinaigrette because it's very similar to Ina's lemon vinaigrette minus the shallots. Spring mix is my favorite combination of greens, but as you’ll notice in the photos, some of the darker lettuces don’t photograph well. Next time for appearance sake if I were photographing the salad, I would use all light green lettuces.
The charm of this dish is the cold crispy salad greens atop hot “fried” chicken. If you are a fried chicken lover, I know you’ll really like this sophisticated version sautéed in good butter and quality olive oil. Here, why don’t you have a bite?
Parmesan Chicken with Salad
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten – serves 6
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
A few good dashes of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1 ¼ cups seasoned dry bread Italian style bread crumbs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Good olive oil
Meslun salad greens for 6
About 6 small handfuls of grape tomato halves for color, optional
My Carolina Kitchen’s French vinaigrette (recipe below)
Sprinkle two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap with a few drops of water to keep them from tearing. Pound the chicken breasts between wax paper or plastic wrap until they are ¼ inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.
Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a sheet of wax paper. In a bowl, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water and a few good dashes of hot sauce. On another sheet of wax paper, combine the bread crumbs and ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Coat the chicken breast on both sides with the flour mixture, shaking off the excess, dip both sides into the egg mixture, then dredge both sides in the bread-crumb cheese mixture, pressing lightly. Place breaded chicken on a rack on a sheet pan and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to help dry the coating so it won’t steam when sautéing.
While the chicken is chilling, chill a bowl for the salad, make the vinaigrette and store in the refrigerator. If you like, the vinaigrette can be made several days in advance and kept in the refrigerator.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Heat 2 tablespoon of butters and 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts, taking care not to crowd the pan, on medium-low heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until cooked through, taking care not to let the cheese burn. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. You may wish to do the chicken in batches. The chicken breasts can be kept warm for about 15 minutes on a sheet pan in a 200-degree oven or your warming drawer.
At the last minute toss the salad greens in the chilled bowl with vinaigrette and optional grape tomato halves. Place a chicken breast on each plate, sprinkle with a little sea salt, mound salad greens on top of the hot chicken, add a few more grains of sea salt to the salad and serve right away. Pass extra grated parmesan at the table if desired.
My Carolina Kitchen’s French Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), or limes or red wine vinegar also work well
9 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Couple of dashes of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
Maldon sea salt, or other good sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place all of the ingredients into a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well. Can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator and also saves well for several days. Easily doubled or tripled.
Cook’s note: The mustard is used to emulsify the vinaigrette and to keep it from separating. The hot sauce brings added flavor and is highly recommended.
Little Paris Cookbook, is Kaye Barley. Congratulations Kaye. Please email me your address and I’ll get the book right off to you right away.