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 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.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thighs, or tenders
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
- 1 lemon, quartered, for serving
Heat the oven to 200°F. Put the flour on a plate or in a shallow bowl next to the stove. If necessary, put each cutlet between 2 sheets of sheet of plastic wrap and pound to uniform thickness; blot the chicken dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Put the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, turn a piece of the chicken in the flour to coat it on all sides; shake off any excess. Add the floured chicken to the pan, then repeat with the next piece; work in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan.
Cook, adjusting the heat as needed so that the fat is always bubbling but the chicken doesn’t burn. After 2 minutes, rotate the chicken so that the outside edges are moved toward the center and vice versa (don’t flip them; you want the same side in contact with the fat). When the bottom of each piece is brown, after 3 to 4 minutes, turn them over.
Cook on the second side, adjusting the heat as described in Step 3, until the chicken is firm to the touch but still a bit pink inside, another 3 to 4 minutes. To check for doneness, cut into a piece with a thin-bladed knife and take a peek. Transfer the chicken to an ovenproof platter and put it in the oven.
Add the wine to the skillet, keeping the heat at medium-high. Let it bubble away as you stir and scrape the bottom of the pan, until about half the wine has evaporated, a minute or two. Pour in the water and continue to stir until the liquid has thickened slightly and reduced to 1/4 cup, another 2 or 3 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet and swirl the pan around until the butter melts; turn off the heat.
Remove the chicken from the oven, and if any juices have accumulated on the platter, add them to the skillet along with the 1/4 cup parsley. Stir, taste the sauce, and adjust the seasoning. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, and serve with the lemon quarters.