Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lunch today... Chicken Milanese with Arugula Salad

Sometime shortly before Mrs. McConnell got married in 1996, she received a cookbook to called, "The Bride and Groom's First Cookbook." We paged through it, wondering why so many of the recipes called for exotic ingredients such as arugula. What exactly was arugula? we wondered. And why does it seem, at least according to this cookbook, that married people are obsessed with it? Arugula, which turned out to be a leafy green vegetable, has since become much more high profile (Barack Obama referred to it, inadvisedly, on the campaign trail when lamenting the high cost of food these days) and, over the past decade or so, it's actually become my favorite variety of salad greens. Arugula has a peppery taste, which makes it a perfect complement to a lemony dressing, such as the one featured in this recipe for Chicken Milanese with Arugula Salad.

The real star of this dish, h
owever is the chicken. Pounded thin and dredged in flour, egg and toasted breadcrumbs, the chicken is placed on a rack and baked on a rimmed baking sheet at 425 for 10-14 minutes. It comes out golden and crispy, like fried chicken without the unhealthy deep frying. I employ a couple of shortcuts to make this fast recipe even faster: I use thin-sliced chicken breasts instead of pounding them out; instead of toasting the breadcrumbs, I just mix them with a little olive oil (I've found the breadcrumbs brown just fine during baking); I don't bother to set the chicken on a baking rack; and I line the baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with Pam for easy clean-up. Once the chicken is fully cooked, plate it and top with the arugula salad (really just greens mixed with a dressing that is equal parts olive oil and fresh lemon juice plus salt and pepper). Serve with lemon slices (good for spritzing the chicken) and you're done. This is one of my favorite chicken recipes, hands down. I'd eat it all the time if doing so wouldn't bore the heck out of Mr. Fritz!

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