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Breaded Chicken Cutlets with Green Olive-Lemon Relish

Plump, fleshy green olives have a salty, meaty, well-rounded flavor and hints of fruitiness. They are the backbone of this rustic Mediterranean-inspired relish. Tangy lemon juice and zest, briny capers, fresh parsley and fruity olive oil each add their character to this savory accompaniment for crisp breaded chicken breasts.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon 
  • 1 garlic clove  
  • 2 cups (10 oz.) pitted green olives 
  • 3 Tbs. nonpareil capers 
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  • 1 tsp. anchovy paste 
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes 
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each about 6 oz.  
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt  
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 cup panko  
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano 
  • 1 tsp. dried basil 

Directions:

To make the relish, finely grate the zest from the lemon and then squeeze 2 Tbs. lemon juice. Turn on a food processor and drop the garlic through the feed tube to chop it. Stop the motor, add the olives, capers, parsley, anchovy paste, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and lemon juice and pulse to coarsely chop the olives. With the machine running, add 1/2 cup of the olive oil in a slow, steady stream and process until the olives are roughly chopped or according to your preference. Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and let stand to blend the flavors while preparing the chicken.

Using a flat meat pounder, pound each chicken breast until flattened to an even thickness of about 1/2 inch.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.

In a shallow dish, stir together the flour, salt and pepper. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and the 1 Tbs. olive oil. In a second shallow bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, oregano and basil. Dip the chicken 1 piece at a time into the flour mixture, coating evenly and shaking off the excess flour. Then dip the chicken into the egg mixture, coating evenly and allowing the excess to drip off. Finally, coat evenly with the bread crumb mixture. Transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet and let stand for 5 minutes.

Line another baking sheet with paper towels. In a very large fry pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil until very hot but not smoking. Add the chicken and cook, adjusting the heat as needed, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook until browned on the other side, 3 to 4 minutes more. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the chicken to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain briefly, no longer than 30 seconds.

Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter and top each breast with a spoonful of the relish. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2008).