Chicken Pannee

Although panneed veal is the classic New Orleans version of this Italian-inspired dish. restaurants serve more chicken pannee than veal or anything else. That’s because it’s perceived as lighter (although the actual difference in calories and fat is very small). And for cooking at home, appropriate cuts of chicken are easier to find at the supermarket than veal.

The word “pannee” is is used as a noun, adjective, or even a verb. It means that the food at the center (it could be almost anything, meat, seafood, or vegetable) is coated with bread crumbs and fried in a pan with about a quarter-inch depth of hot oil. Whether the word is a reference to the pan or to the breading (“pain, the French word for bread) is in dispute. What we know for certain that panneed anything is good, and chicken is among the best possible options for the technique.

  • 8 boneless chicken breasts, or tenderloins
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. salt-free Creole seasoning
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Canola or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated bread crumbs
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbs. small capers
  • 1 lemon, cut into eight wedges

1. Pound the chicken between two pieces of waxed paper until each piece is about twice its original size.

2. Mix the salt and Creole seasoning into the flour, and lightly dust (don’t dredge!) the chicken. (Best way to do this: put the flour-salt-seasoning blend into a cheese shaker, and shake it onto the chicken.)

3. Pass the chicken through the beaten egg. Shake off the excess. Then dredge through the bread crumbs. If you have time, put the chicken cutlets onto a pan lined with plastic wrap, cover with another sheet of plastic wrap, and refrigerate for from two hours to overnight.

4. Heat about a half-inch of oil in a heavy skillet (cast iron is perfect) over medium-high fire, until a pinch of bread crumbs fries vigorously. Cook the chicken, as many pieces as will fit without overlapping, for about a minute and a half per side, or until the exterior is golden brown. Remove and drain for a minute in a large sieve. Keep the pieces warm as you cook the remaining pieces.

Serve garnished with parsley and capers, with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over it. Serve with pasta bordelaise on the side.

Serves four to eight.

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