This recipe started as an attempt to make the best chicken paillard I could, but then the paillards got breaded and became schnitzel. Calling it schnitzel wouldn’t do it justice though because no schnitzel was ever this good. The flavor is intensely chickeny and the meat is very tender. It’s a process driven recipe, rather than an ingredient driven recipe, but it’s not so difficult or time consuming as the first read might lead you to believe.
Recipe for 2, easily doubled, but more than that and it could become a chore.
Serve with a simple green salad
- Yield: dinner for 2
- Difficulty: Medium
- Total: 3 days
- Active: 1-1/2 hours
- 1 double chicken breast with skin (or two halves) – preferably organic/free range
- 3/4 tsp sea salt – do not use table or kosher salt
- 1 carrot, 1 stalk celery, 1 small onion
- flour to coat, 1 beaten egg & seasoned breadcrumbs, store-bought OK
- about 1-1/2 tablespoons white vermouth, optional
- At least 1 day before planning to serve, sprinkle the chicken breast with 3/4 tsp sea salt per pound of chicken (a la Judy Rodgers.) Wrap chicken and place in refrigerator. Doing this several days ahead is okay.
- On the day you plan to serve, take chicken breasts from fridge, wipe dry and filet the breasts reserving the skin and bones. Don’t worry about cutting the filets cleanly – you learn by doing, a sloppy filet won’t matter at all and a little meat sticking to the bones will improve the sauce. – Return chicken and skin to refrigerator until later.
- Right after fileting the chicken breast, roughly chop the onion, celery and carrot and put in a small sauce pan with the chicken bones.and whatever herbs and spices are at hand – a small stalk of thyme and a few peppercorns are nice but not necessary. Add boiling water to cover and then leave to simmer over very low heat for several hours checking occasionally to make sure you don’t let it get dry.
- About an hour before serving (2 hours if you’re not very experienced,) strain the stock you’ve made from the bones and place in a small pan. Add the vermouth, if using, and then simmer while you fix everything else. You want the sauce to reduce to just a few very flavorful tablespoons.
- Place chicken skin in a heavy frying pan over medium heat, cooking like bacon and turning occasionally while you …
- Pound the chicken flat. Take a 1-gallon size freezer bag and cut the edges so the two sides of the bag remain attached only at the bottom. Take 1 chicken breast and place between the sheets of plastic and pound with a rolling pin until the breast is about 1/4″ thick and roughly 8″ around. Put that breast aside and pound out the other.
- Bread the chicken: Have three plates in a row. Put flower in the first, the beaten egg in the second and the breadcrumbs in the third. Take one of the pounded breasts and cover it with as much flour as will stick to it, knocking off the excess. Dip the floured breast in the egg until covered with the egg and then cover with breadcrumbs.
- By now the chicken skin should be crisp. Remove from pan to a piece of paper towel to drain. There should be enough chicken fat in the pan to fry the fillets, but if you need a little more add a tablespoon or so of olive oil.
- Fry each of the chicken pieces in the chicken fat for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes per side until golden brown and delicious looking. When the first is ready remove to the plate on which it will be served. No need to keep warm in the oven as the other will be done in a moment. When both pieces are done, drizzle on the reduced stock that’s been simmering away and serve with a simple green salad. Put the fried chicken skins on top of the chicken breast or salad or just eat them in the kitchen as the cooks treat. For me, they’re the best part.