Monday, April 22, 2013

Crispy Chicken with Caesar Salad

I had chicken breasts in the fridge so I only had to decide how to cook them.  Fern asked if we could have chicken and Caesar salad which sounded good to me so that's what I made.  Caesar salad is made using an aioli aka mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is made with an egg yolk, leaving egg whites for something else. Tempura is made with egg whites but I am going to cook on the BBQ, not the deep fryer. I can still coat the chicken with something though.

Put 1 cup or more croutons in a hot pan with plenty of oil.  Add more oil as it is absorbed and keep tossing them so they brown evenly. Add salt and pepper generously. When they have a nice brown and some crunch put them aside to cool. The better the quality of bread the better the flavor.

Next separate the yolk and white into separate bowls.  Whisk the whites up so they are completely broken apart.  I put the center of alpine bread in the blender which turns it into panko like bread crumbs. In a plastic bag or on a plate put half a cup of bread crumbs,  1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and a teaspoon paprika (and anything else that might taste good).  In a plastic bag put 2 tablespoons flour.  One at a time shake the breasts in the flour then dip them in the egg and finally coat them with bread crumbs.  I sprayed the coated breasts with a little oil to brown them better, not sure it helped. I also sprinkled a little extra salt on each one.

I was cooking on the BBQ but should I go for grill marks on breaded chicken?  Let's see what happens.   I put the breasts over the flame for 2 minutes, rotate them and wait 2 minutes. Turn them over and wait 2 minutes then rotate them and wait 2 minutes and finally put them in the center off the flame to roast for the remainder of 25 total minutes cooking time.  The result, a hint of grill marks which could just be ordinary browning.  So don't bother trying to get grill marks, too much trouble, too little reward. Next time I'll put them over the heat for 2 minutes, turn them over for 2 minutes then put them in the center to roast.  That way the egg will seal in the moisture.  I plated the chicken with a dollop of mayonnaise, from a jar this time, just to lubricate the chicken on the way down.  

In a measuring cup I put less than 1/4 cup xv olive oil and fill that up to less than 1/2 cup with rice bran oil or whatever neutral flavor oil. I find pure xv olive oil too strong on it's own.  1/2 tsp at a time, add oil to yolk and whisk it into emulsion. If too much oil is added at once, the aioli will break so go slow.

When all the oil is emulsified add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 2-3 crushed garlic cloves, a few drops Worcestershire Sauce, an optional anchovy fillet and the juice of half a lemon or 1 tbsp of  lemon juice. Grate 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust lemon, salt and pepper to get a good balance. Add lettuce and toss.  Add croutons and parmesan then toss.  Serve on a large plate with the chicken on the side.  It just doesn't work to put a hot entree on top of a cold salad.

The salad was wonderful and welcome, first one this year. The chicken was crunchy and moist so I definitely will do that breading again. Next time I'll try to  spiff up the mayo with more flavor. Otherwise it was the perfect spring dinner.

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