Lemon Parmesan Chicken with Arugula Salad

 
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Spring is here, and while I'm having a hard time letting go of my cold-weather, meat-centric braises, I'll admit a light dinner comprised of low-fat protein with a zingy salad piled on top appeals to me. Which is why my ears perked up last weekend when I heard the goddess of "How good does that look?" and "How easy is that?" sharing her recipe for a Lemon Parmesan Chicken with Arugula Salad on the Food Network channel.

Yes, I want tender, thin, crispy chicken breasts seasoned with Parmesan. Yes, I want the freshness of lemon and thyme and arugula to awaken my senses and prod me to begin the deep spring cleaning my kitchen and house in general needs.

This is a great week-night meal that you can scale up or down, depending on how many hungry mouths need feeding.

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Lemon Parmesan Chicken with Arugula Salad

Serves 4
Adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • l pound skinless chicken breasts
  • Unsalted butter
  • Good olive oil
  • 5 ounces arugula
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/4 pound chunk Parmesan cheese

Combine the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a shallow dish. In a second shallow dish, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. In a third dish, combine the bread crumbs, the 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, the lemon zest and thyme, and set aside.

If your chicken breasts are relatively smallish and not too thick, pound the chicken breasts between two sheets of parchment paper with a meat using a meat mallet or a rolling pin until they are 1/4 inch thick. If they are rather large breasts, I recommend butterflying the breast (cutting through the thickest part of the breast, but not all the way through, so it lays open like a book), then cutting each breast in two pieces. At this point, you may still want to pound the breasts a little bit to get them nice and thin and even.

Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Yes, the flour has a bit of seasoning in it, but I'm a big fan of seasoning every layer of my dish - and you should too. 

Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the prepared flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts (if 3 crowds the pan, stick to 2 pieces) on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts.

Place the arugula in a large bowl and make your dressing. I love how Ina makes her dressing in a measuring glass - less to clean up and super easy, even for a math idiot like myself. In a 1-cup glass measure, whisk together the 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour enough dressing on the arugula to moisten. Toss well.

Pile some arugula on top of each hot chicken breast. With a very sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, shave the chunk of Parmesan into large shards and arrange them on top of the arugula.

Send good thoughts Ina's way for creating simple, elegant dishes that taste amazing.

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