Mustard Milanese with Arugula Fennel Salad

Chicken with fennel

I've mentioned many times before on this blog that when I first met Joel, I wasn't exactly the most daring when it came to food. Whenever we went out, chicken was my go-to meal choice because I considered it to be safe. While my tastebuds have expanded and I now enjoy a diverse range of foods, chicken tends to be my first choice for protein when cooking in my own kitchen because it provides such a blank canvas when it comes to cooking. It is such a versatile ingredient that can be flavored in so many different ways. After getting my hands on a copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, I read it cover to cover and immediately flagged a few quick weeknight meals. Of course, the first one I chose to try was this chicken dish. Even though this dish includes my "safe" ingredient, it also includes a new-to-me ingredient, fennel. It was simple to prepare, but the flavors were so bold and delicious. Just an FYI: While Deb fries her chicken in a pan, I chose to bake mine to cut down on the amount of oil used. The recipe below reflects my cooking method.

For the Chicken:
2 Chicken Breasts
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup Flour
1 Egg White
2 tablespoons Smooth Dijon Mustard
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Zest
1 1/2 cups Panko Breadcrumbs

Butterfly the chicken breasts to make 4 thin cutlets. Using a meat pounder (I used the back of a heavy spoon) pound the cutlets between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4-inch thickness. Season both sides of the cutlets with salt and pepper. Line up 3 shallow dishes on the counter. In the first dish, add the flour. In the second dish, whisk together the egg white, dijon, garlic, oregano, and lemon zest. In the third dish, spread out the breadcrumbs. Dredge each piece of chicken lightly in flour, then heavily in the egg-white mixture, and generously in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with each cutlet. Place a baking rack over a cookie sheet and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange the chicken cutlets on the rack and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. 

For the Salad:
3 tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 tablespoons Coarse Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Smooth Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup Olive Oil
5 ounces Baby Arugula Leaves
Small Fennel Bulb

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and mustards, then whisk in the olive oil. Pour three quarters of the mixture into a large bowl. Thinly slice the fennel and add the fennel and arugula to the bowl with the dressing. Toss the salad, and when ready to serve, arrange one piece of chicken on a plate. Drizzle a few drops of the remaining dressing over the chicken, then pile the salad directly on top. Season with salt and pepper, and eat immediately.

SOURCE: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook