Friday, January 9, 2015

One Great . . . ramped-up chicken cutlet

Chefs don't cook like the rest of us. That can be good and bad for people who love recipes.

Sometimes, their cooking is complicated and involves lots of pots and obscure ingredients. That's bad for recipe lovers.

Sometimes, their cooking is so simple, anyone can do it. And that is very, very good for us.

New York's Marco Canora can do the first kind of cooking very well at his restaurant Hearth and his former restaurant Insieme. But in his new book, "A Good Food Day," he does the second kind with healthful recipes. That's where I spotted this smart method for the usually bland skinless, boneless chicken breasts.

It sounds harder than it is, but you're really flattening chicken breasts so they cook really fast. And when you flatten them, you beat herbs into them. How smart is that? The herb topping is endlessly adaptable, and the cooked breasts can be sliced and used on anything from pasta to salad.

Flavor-Pounded Chicken 

From "A Good Food Day," by Marco Canora (Clarkson Potter, $30).

4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
12 large fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
Grated zest of 2 small lemons
2 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 teaspoons olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons for cooking
4 lemon wedges

STARTING at the thicker side, make a lengthwise cut into the chicken breast, stopping before you cut all the through. Fold it open like a book. Place between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound it out thinly with the flat side of a meat tenderizer, working from the inside out, until it's about 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining breasts.

PILE the herbs, lemon zest and garlic on a cutting board and chop together. Place in a small bowl and add the salt, a few grinds of pepper and 8 teaspoons olive oil. Spread half the paste evenly on one side of the chicken breasts and rub it in.

COVER with plastic wrap again and lightly pound in the seasoning with the toothy side of the meat tenderizer. Flip the breasts and rub the remaining past into the other side, cover and pound again.

HEAT 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over high heat until it's very hot. Add 1 chicken breast, put a weight on it (like a kettle or heavy pan), cook about 45 seconds. Flip it, weight it again and cook 45 seconds. Transfer to a plate and let it rest 3 minutes while you cook the remaining chicken. Squeeze a little lemon over each, then cut in slices.

YIELD: 4 servings.