Pan-Fried Chicken Cutlets with Indian Yogurt Marinade (p. 269)
This chicken variation on Weiner Shnitzel (veal) is a two day affair, as you know from yesterday's accounting of the making of the marinade. I gathered that the relatively complicated marinade would make for some nice flavors, but HOLY COW, this recipe is off the charts!!
But let me go back a few steps: While I was making the marinade, I was also preparing the chicken. This involved taking two sizable chicken breasts, slicing them in half the long way, and pounding them into 1/4 inch cutlets. Then they were ready for marinating.
After sitting in the marinade overnight, the cutlets look slightly cooked, sort of in the same way that ceviche has been somewhat "cooked" in citrus juice. Sadly, they get wiped dry to prepare for the breading process. (All that beautiful marinade, sent down the drain.) Next dredged in flour, dipped in an egg bath, and then covered in panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs), these cutlets look very "finished" as they await the frying pan. (The look recalls a classic coconut shrimp/chicken breading.)
Since the oil is only 1/4 inch deep in the pan, my candy thermometer wouldn't work. (The oil didn't reach the thermometer part.) I used a meat thermometer, which I think was relatively accurate, but something bad happened when I put in the first pair. While I think the oil had indeed reached 350°, it dropped precipitously after the chicken went it. Alas, the cutlets didn't brown up very quickly. When I finally figured out that the oil wasn't reheating quickly enough, I turned up the heat, but by then, the damage was done. The cutlets were fine, edible, but definitely overcooked and not crispy.
The second pair, on the other hand, were spectacular. The oil was the perfect temperature, and the cutlets cooked quickly and browned and crisped beautifully.
Served with the recommended accoutrements of fresh cilantro, lime wedges, and thinly sliced onion, this dish was OUT OF THIS WORLD! The flavor of the marinated chicken was supreme, salty and complex, flashes of Indian flavorings, but very clean and satisfying. The crispy breading, the juicy chicken, the brightness of the lime and cilantro, plus the raw onion (which I NEVER eat, but LOVED here) all conspire to deliver a truly magical food experience. Tracy C, who is very particular about what she eats, was just as rhapsodic. (Incidentally, that's roasted broccoli on the plate with the chicken.)
All in all, it's TOTALLY worth it. Worth the effort of the marinade, worth the mess of frying, worth dirtying a lot of spoons, measuring cups, cutting boards, pans, utensils, plates, blenders, food-processors, knives, etc.
Until we eat again....
Note: Somehow this recipe ended up being omitted from my Master Project Spread Sheet, so what was once a total of 356 recipes and lessons has now grown to 357.