[Photograph: Romulo Yanes]

Quick weeknight chicken dinner is one of those recipe topics that never gets old. And a recipe that goes from chicken in the fridge to satisfying dinner on the table in under 30 minutes, well even better. This is exactly why these Chicken Cutlets with Quick Pan Sauce from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything The Basics are such a keeper.

Not too fancy, just dredge chicken cutlets (or breasts or thighs), crisp them in butter and olive oil, move them to the oven to keep warm, and proceed with the best part of this recipe, the pan sauce. It's kind of amazing how rich a pan sauce can be, simply made by scraping the fond, adding a bit of wine, and swirling in a pat of butter at the very end. It's only a matter of minutes, but it's the sauce that really makes the dish.

What Worked: Mark Bittman calls these cutlets quick, dependable, rich, and rather elegant and we're wont to agree, it's that rich, winey pan sauce that gives them that elegance.

What Didn't: We're quite pleased with this recipe every step of the way.

Suggested Tweaks: Here are some ideas from Bittman regarding switching up the cutlet recipe:

Any Cutlets with Quick Pan Sauce: Try turkey, pork, or veal cutlets; or fish fillets here. Cooking times will vary by up to a couple of minutes per side, but the clues for knowing when to turn them and how to recognize doneness remain the same.

Chicken Cutlets with Balsamic Sauce: In Step 5, stir in 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar just before adding the butter.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of How to Cook Everything The Basics to give away.


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