While this dish is essentially fried, there has always been something light and summery about it for us. Maybe it's the way the cool cucumber and tomato salad, with its fresh oregano and tangy juices, blends with the crispness of the tender chicken. We almost always serve this "al fresco," paired with a chilled white wine like a pinot griggio or chardonnay.
This is also a combination that could be made with most any meat in place of the chicken, whether it be beef, veal or pork, which can be prepared thinly pounded out with the bone left in as a chop.
One other note: people sometimes wonder about frying in olive oil. Joe swears this brings an indispensable flavor element that sets this dish apart from just being "fried chicken." Olive oil also has a smoke-point of about 405 degrees and this frying happens at around 350, so we are well in the clear.
Makes 4 Servings
8 CHICKEN CUTLETS (OR 4 BONELESS SKINLESS CHICKEN BREASTS, SLICED HORIZONTALLY TO HALF THEIR THICKNESS)
OLIVE OIL. EXTRA VIRGIN PREFERRED. ENOUGH TO FILL YOUR FRYING PAN TO 3/4 INCH DEPTH BEFORE CHICKEN IS ADDED.
For the Breadcrumbs
Mix together in a baking sheet or wide serving dish the following:
1 CONTAINER (15 OUNCES OR SO) OF BREAD CRUMBS.
1 TBSP DRIED OREGANO
1 TSP GARLIC POWDER
2 TSP SALT
1 TSP FRESH GROUND PEPPER
(OPTIONAL) 1 THINLY SLICED CLOVE FRESH GARLIC
For the egg dip
Whisk together the following:
1 TSP GARLIC POWDER
1 TSP SALT
1 TSP DRIED OREGANO
USING A MEAT TENDERIZER GENTLY POUND OUT THE CUTLETS ON A CUTTING BOARD TO THIN THEM OUT TO ABOUT 1/4 INCH THICKNESS. BE CAREFUL NOT TO USE TOO MUCH FORCE OR TO POUND THROUGH THE FILET. (TIP: YOU MAY WANT TO PLACE A DISHCLOTH UNDER YOUR CUTTING BOARD, THIS REDUCES NOISE AND HELPS TO PROTECT YOUR COUNTER-TOP.) SOME CHEFS RECOMMEND USING PLASTIC WRAP FOR THIS STEP, JOE HAS FOUND IT'S NOT NEEDED. SO PROTECT OUR OCEANS AND SKIP THE PLASTIC :)
ADD OIL TO A LARGE SAUTE PAN AND BEGIN HEATING - WATCH CLOSELY SO IT DOESN'T OVERHEAT. BRING TO AROUND 350 DEGREES.
PLACE THE EGG DIP INTO A WIDE BOWL OR DEEP DISH AND THE BREADCRUMB MIXTURE NEAR THE PAN AND GET ONE MORE LARGE DISH OR BAKING SHEET READY, LINED WITH A LAYER OF PAPER TOWEL.
DIP THE CUTLETS INTO THE EGGS AND COAT THOROUGHLY, THEN LAY THE CUTLET INTO THE BREADCRUMBS AND WORK TO COAT IT ENTIRELY ON BOTH SIDES. LAY GENTLY INTO THE HEATED OIL. PLACE AS MANY AS WILL FIT IN THE PAN WITHOUT CROWDING.
AFTER ABOUT 3 MINS, FLIP THE CUTLETS GENTLY USING A FORK. (TONGS WILL SCUFF OFF THE BREADED COATING). KEEP FRYING UNTIL GOLDEN BROWN AND CRISPY, ABOUT 5-6 MINUTES TOTAL.
REMOVE FROM PAN LETTING EXCESS OIL RUN OFF, THEN PLACE ONTO PAPER TOWEL LINED SHEET. ONCE SHEET AREA IS COVERED, ADD A LAYER OF PAPER TOWEL ON TOP AND REPEAT AS NEEDED.
WHEN FINISHED, TRANSFER TO A SERVING DISH. WATCH OUT FOR LURKING DOGS...
THIS IS OFTEN SERVED WITH AN ARUGULA SALAD. WE LOVE IT MOST WITH OUR CHILLED TOMATO AND CUCUMBER SUMMER SALAD.