Taste the Air-Chilled Difference®

Chicken Thigh Milanese With Pesto

by , Chef, Salt Cellar, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Chicken Thigh Milanese With Pesto

Serves 4 to 6

  • 6 boneless skinless Smart Chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 cup ramp pesto, or substitute basil pesto
  • About 1 cup flavorless oil (such as canola), as needed for frying
  • Seedless lemon wedges, for serving
  • Breading
  • 5 cups Panko breadcrumbs, pulsed in a food processor
  • 4 large eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Watercress Salad
  • 6 ounces fresh watercress, washed and cleaned, or substitute arugula
  • Virgin sunflower oil, or your favorite salad oil
  • Fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Place the chicken thighs between two sheets of plastic wrap. Gently pound the thighs with a meat mallet on one side, then flip over and repeat. Keep pounding gently until the thighs are about ¼ inch thick. Remove the thighs and combine with the ramp pesto, mix thoroughly, transfer to an airtight container and allow to marinate overnight.

The next day, prepare a breading station by filling 3 shallow containers: one with the beaten egg, another with flour, and a third with breadcrumbs. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on paper towels. Blot excess moisture and marinade from the chicken, then dip each first in flour, then in beaten egg, then in breadcrumbs.

To cook the chicken thighs, preheat an oven to 325°F. Heat a large, wide pan (preferably 10-inches in diameter or more) with a ¼ cup of oil over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. (Test the temperature by dipping the corner of a piece of chicken in it; if it sizzles, it’s ready.) Add the chicken to the pan and cook in batches until golden on each side. As the breadcrumbs soak up oil you will need to add more oil to the pan to help them brown and not burn. When the chicken cutlets are browned on each side, remove them to a baking sheet lined with a baking rack and place in the oven to cook through gently while you fry the rest of the cutlets. When all the cutlets are cooked through, transfer them to preheated dinner plates. Prepare the salad by tossing the watercress with a little oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve the salad on the side of each cutlet.