Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mustard Milanese with an Arugula Fennel Salad

I've been eating out a lot. Like a lot. My fridge is decorated with take out containers and doggy bags from Chinese, Mexican, Greek and Italian restaurants. Not to mention leftovers from what I have actually managed to cook myself (in spite of all the leftovers already available). As much as I love eating out and I love the variety of ethnic food that seems to have suddenly and magically re-entered my life, it becomes difficult to write a cooking blog if one doesn't cook.

A variation of the ingredients you should use.
 And so, a re-commitment to my cookbook collection has been born. This starts with the Smitten Kitchen cookbook (I did steal it in a Yankee swap, afterall). Leafing through the pages, I was looking for things that were for dinner instead of dessert and could be moderately healthy without being a straight up salad. The winner? A chicken recipe--that you fry in oil. Baby steps.

I don't really know what this recipe title means so I summarized it as the very technical term of "Chicken Somethin' Somethin'". Normally I don't like mustard but in such small quantities, this recipe seemed like an exception. Plus, it's not like I'm ruining a perfectly good burger or hot dog by adding fluorescent goo, I'm adding classy spice and taste (note: I didn't realize I was adding spice at the time).

A few things that were done differently.
  1. I had every intention of buying two chicken breasts and slicing them into cutlets. Until I got to the store and found cutlets already assembled. That seemed like a viable short cut.
  2. I did not tenderize the cutlets with a hammer. That's just overkill for me. I'm sure it would have made the spices really seep into the chicken but I also didn't leave these wrapped up overnight so it probs wouldn't have mattered anyways.
  3. Since I moved, my brain has been confused about what spices and ingredients I actually own versus formerly owned but discarded in the mad dash of moving. This includes smooth Dijon mustard. I bought some for a salad dressing previously, assumed I had kept it since it was relatively new but alas, I did not. So only course Dijon for us!
Like with any fried chicken, this gets done in steps. Dip in dish one (flour mixture), then dish two (egg mixture), and dish three (panko crumbs). Then add to oil and wait while delicious fried scents fill your kitchen. I think I under-fried the first couple pieces of chicken but none were burned so I deem this a success.

Prepared for the assembly line
I don't really dare leave frying oil alone (PSA: don't throw water on an oil/grease fire, it will explode) so I waited to toss the salad until the chicken was actually done. Now, when I say toss, I really mean I pulled a shake and bake because it seemed like the fastest way to mix the salad and oils and mustard. Basically pour all of salad into a gallon freezer bag and add the dressing ingredients. Seal well and go to town rocking out and shaking that bag like a maraca. The end result: well mixed and delicious salad.

Mmm frying chicken. A healthy improvement over take out...sssshhh...
I'm sure this would have turned out even better if I had actually had the other mustard (it got a little spicy and sinus-cleansing with just course mustard substituted for smooth) and let the chicken set over night but it was delicious. And then my roommate texted me the next day to say she loved it too. So an unbiased party agrees with me, success!
Bag o' Salad
This is not the precise recipe that I used but it's the one on Smitten Kitchen's blog so have at it! And make some variations as you see fit, experimentation is key and makes for great dishes (or stories of splendid failure).
The final product

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