This is a quick, down and dirty dish that Grid and I threw together the other night to rave reviews. It is light, fresh, packed with flavor, and best of all, can be on the table in under 30 minutes. The (slightly modified) recipe comes from Bon Appétit magazine’s December 2009 issue.
Grid, a senior in high school, is our oldest and busiest child. Between after school Cross-Country training, college application work, and normal home-work, it’s hard to negotiate more than 1/2 hour of his time for helping in the kitchen these days. That said, I try to save quick dishes like this for when I have a chance to work with him. He set off chopping and mixing the vibrant salsa, while I got all “Ramsey” smashing the chicken breasts with a mallet to a nice even thickness.
Aside from fresh salsa ingredients, the pounding of the breasts into “paillards” is the key to this dish. Working with uniformly thin pieces of chicken allows you to cook them quickly over high heat, achieving a nice caramelized exterior, while JUST cooking them through so that they stay moist inside. If the breasts are too thick the exterior will burn before the meat is fully cooked through, and you don’t want that….boo.
We served the chicken with simply boiled baby potatoes tossed with a little EVOO, salt, pepper and homemade pesto, and a simple green salad….fast to the table, tasty as all get-out and hardly any clean-up.
Cheers – Steve
Chicken Cutlets with Orange, Cilantro and Basil Salsa (originally “Chicken Paillards with Clementine Salsa”)
- 4 chicken breast halves
- 2 large oranges or tangelos, or 4 clementines, peeled, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/2 cup finely diced celery
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 serrano or jalapeno chile, seeded, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup fresh orange or clementine juice
- Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets plastic wrap or parchment paper, spacing apart. Using mallet, pound chicken to 1/4-inch thickness. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
- Mix orange pieces and next 8 ingredients in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Salsa can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature.
- Uncover chicken; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until slightly browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to platter. Add orange juice to skillet; boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Drizzle sauce over chicken. Spoon salsa over and serve.