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September 22, 2014

Peter Miller’s Breaded Chicken

I love the concept of Lunch at the Shop because it implies we have time to put together a real meal at midday and actually sit down (with others) and enjoy it. While that doesn’t happen much around here, it’s something I could aspire to. Cookbook author Peter Miller owns a renowned design book shop in Seattle and happens to be e-list staffer Pam’s uncle. One summer night I had the good fortune of tasting his pasta with tomato sauce. It was years ago, but I’ve never forgotten that simple meal (and yes, it’s in the book). The recipes in his slim tome all have that breezy, easy-to-throw-together appeal, from White Bean Soup with Garlic and Sausage, to Lentils Many Ways and a standout sandwich of apple, fromage d’affinois (my absolute favorite cheese), arugula and almond butter. His way with a chicken breast (butter and fresh breadcrumbs improve anything) involves a quick sauté and a short roast in the oven. The result is a crispy outside and perfectly cooked, moist interior. Deglaze the pan with a drizzle of white wine and you’ve got a tasty dinner tonight or slice it atop a salad  for lunch tomorrow.  A lovely and inspirational little book.   

Breaded Boneless Chicken in the Oven, from Lunch at the Shop, The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal, by Peter Miller

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts about 1/2 pound each

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup fresh bread crumbs*

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon white wine

 

Check the chicken breasts for grit and bone, and dry them well with paper towels. Place the breasts in a stainless-steel bowl and add plenty of salt and pepper, then the bread crumbs. Toss to coat the chicken. Push the breasts into the crumbs that loosen, on all sides. Let stand in the bowl while you get the sauté pan ready.

Heat an ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat for a minute or two. Add the oil and, moments later, the butter, and melt the butter until it foams. It should sizzle but not burn or scorch. When the foam slows, add the chicken breasts–they should sizzle when they hit the pan. Cook the chicken for 2 minutes on one side to brown it, flip each breast, then cook the other side for 2 minutes more. Transfer the pan to the oven.

After 5 minutes, open the oven and flip the breasts. Cook for 4 minutes more, then carefully remove the pan from the oven, it will be hot. Let it rest for a couple of minutes. Transfer the chicken to a warm plate to rest. Set the pan over low heat (be careful, as the handle is hot–wrap it in a dish towel, if necessary) and deglaze it with a little white wine and a sprinkling of warmed water, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. If serving immediately, pour the sauce over the chicken and top with the parsley.

If you are cooking this for lunch, let the chicken breasts cool, then transfer them to a glass dish with an airtight lid and pour the sauce over them.

*Bread crumbs: Set the oven to 400 F.  Use day old country white bread, cut the crust from the bread, and cut the bread into cubes. Place the cubes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for 1 minute or until the uses are broken down into crumbs. Lay them out in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and place them in the oven. Watch the crumbs and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, just until brown. Set aside to cool.

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