You know we are frequent visitors to my friend, Pam’s, where the kids play while we fuss in the kitchen and try to reassure one another that whatever inadequacies we think we have as parents are not going to cause permanent damage to said children’s psyches or emotionally cripple them or lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or cause some such long-term catastrophic effect that will require years of therapy and narcotics to overcome.
It’s not all about anxiety. We also talk about our new projects and ventures (I’ll be telling you about some of mine in the next couple of weeks!) and brainstorm ideas for one another. Now that the children are getting older, there is more space and time to dream about a different future and it is fantastic to have people cheering from the sidelines. It’s good fun and of course it all happens in the kitchen.
And then we all sit down to dinner.
The kids have recently developed a new way to show appreciation when they like the food. They get up and dance! This, of course, makes me feel like a rock star (Everybody get your hands up!). So far so good, but last week we had two additional children who were staying over at the table with us. Is there any tougher audience than a collection of other people’s kids?
I tried this adaptation of a chicken recipe from The Minimalist (The man behind The Minimalist is one of my food and writing heroes – Mark Bittman). The only thing minimal about this chicken was the effort and the leftovers; the flavors were big and the chicken juicy and sure enough…all five kids got up and danced! Admittedly, this can become annoying when they won’t sit back down or someone looks like they are dangerously close to mooning the table or they start squealing too. But it is flattering and festive and fun and thus, today’s title: The Chicken Dance…corny, but hey, what’s a little corniness amongst friends?
Chicken Cutlets Meunière
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about three lbs), pounded down to cutlets if you want them to cook more quickly
Salt and black pepper
About ½ cup flour or cornmeal for dredging*
Vegetable oil for frying (Bittman also suggests clarified butter)
2 Tbs butter for browning (optional)
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs minced parsley
Heat a 12-inch skillet (nonstick if you’ve got) over medium high for two minutes. Meanwhile, sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and set up the flour or cornmeal on a plate for the dredging.
Pour the oil into the skillet so it is about 1/8” deep and turn the heat to high. When the oil is hot, coat the chicken thoroughly in the flour or cornmeal you have set up on the plate. Add each to the pan as you dredge. You will probably have to do two rounds.
Cook until the chicken is nicely browned (3-4 minutes on each side if the breasts are pounded thin; 6-7 minutes on each side if they are thick). Lower heat if you are getting scorching!
Meanwhile, melt the optional butter over medium heat until nut brown.
When the cutlets are done, drain on papers towels then transfer to a warm platter, drizzle with lemon, and sprinkle with most of the parsley. At the very last minute, drizzle with browned butter and the last of the parsley.
*For variety, season the flour or cornmeal with your favorite flavors – curry, Italian herbs, herbes de Provence, cayenne pepper – it’s up to you.