I almost never buy meat, for reasons beyond the scope of this post, so I don’t have as much experience cooking it as I do other foods. So, when over a month had gone by and my roommates still hadn’t eaten the frozen organic chicken breasts left by previous tenants, I decided to go ahead and experiment.
Here’s the thing: I have an instinctive aversion to boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They’re wasteful, they’re expensive, and they remove the biggest sources of good chicken flavor. On the rare occasions that I’ve bought poultry, I use the whole bird, in large part out of pride: muscle for eating, fat to be rendered for cooking and spreading, organs to flavor giblet gravy, bones and leftover bits to enhance stock. What to do with these plain chunks of white meat, which usually seem to get cooked until they’re tough and dry, then draped with sauce in an attempt to distract the palate, was the challenge.
My solution: thaw them, then pound them into thin pieces (they divided naturally into multiple medium-sized pieces, but that was just fine). Melt quite a bit of butter with some cooking oil in a wide skillet. Mix together plenty of flour, salt, and pepper on a plate. Dredge the pieces thoroughly in flour, then fry them on medium-high heat until starting to brown on each side, turning once. To the remaining fat, add some leftover flour and stir for a minute; add wine to deglaze, then stir in chopped parsley and capers, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over the chicken, over rice or another starch.
I know that the pounding and dredging required an extra step beyond “throw it in the saucepan,” but honestly now, it took little enough time, especially considering the shortened cooking time that thin pieces require. The results tasted so much nicer than the average chicken breast – genuinely tender, delicate, and flavorful – and they also stretched the meat for more servings. My problem now is resisting making this dish a regular habit. . .