Mediterranean Every Day Chicken

Just when I think I’ve run out of new ideas for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, along comes a new one! This time, I found it in the new cookbook Mediterranean Every Day: Simple, Inspired Recipes for Feel-Good Food, by Sheela Prakash.

Baked Chicken Milanese with Lemony Escarole calls for toasting the breadcrumbs in olive oil before breading the thin chicken breasts, as well as baking the chicken on a wire rack placed over a sheet pan. With this method, you can enjoy crispy chicken without frying it in oil. The escarole dressed in lemon juice and olive oil, topped with shaved Pecorino Romano and cracked black pepper, elevates a baked weeknight chicken dish into a special dinner.

Ingredients for the Chicken:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds (4 medium or 2 large) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Ingredients for the Lemony Escarole:

  • 1 bunch escarole
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly shaved Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving

Directions for the Chicken:

  1. To make the chicken, place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Fit a wire cooling rack into a rimmed sheet pan.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and toast, stirring frequently so they cook evenly, until golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and let the breadcrumbs cool in the skillet while you prepare the chicken.
  3. If using 4 medium chicken breasts, place one at a time inside a gallon-size zip-top bag and pound with a rolling pin or the flat side of a meat mallet to an even 1/2-inch thickness. Set aside and repeat with the remaining breasts. If using 2 large chicken breasts, place them on a cutting board and, working with one at a time, lightly press down on the breast with the palm of one hand and use a sharp knife to cut it in half horizontally to make 2 thin cutlets. Repeat with the remaining breast.
  4. Thoroughly pat dry the 4 thin pieces of chicken with paper towels and season all over with salt and pepper. Divide the Dijon among the chicken pieces and coat both sides evenly. Dredge each in the breadcrumbs right in the skillet off the heat, coating both sides and pressing the crumbs to adhere. Transfer the coated chicken to the rack on the prepared baking sheet as you go.
  5. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes.

Directions for the Escarole:

  1. While the chicken bakes, remove and discard any tough outer dark green leaves and halve the escarole lengthwise. Reserve the outer leaves and escarole for another time. (I used all of the escarole for this dish.)
  2. Tear the remaining half into bite-size pieces.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, pinch of salt, and several grinds of black pepper to combine. Add the escarole and toss to coat. Set aside.

Once the chicken is cooked, transfer to individual serving plates. Divide the escarole among the plates, piling it on top of the chicken, and top with shaved Pecorino and a few grinds of black pepper.

Other recipes include Herby Ricotta, Roasted Greek Tomato Soup, No-Fail Parmesan Risotto, Whole-Wheat Skillet Focaccia, Lemony Yogurt and Zucchini Linguine, and Citrus Polenta Cake.

Mediterranean Every Day is available upon request here for curbside pickup at Whitehall Public Library, or by calling 412-882-6622.

Mediterranean Every Day Chicken
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