There was no glazed ham, roast leg of lamb, or grilled beef tenderloin at our Easter table this year. Instead Mike, my son and co-chef, and I agreed on an untraditional main course. Chicken cutlets, prepared Wiener schnitzel style, were our choice and turned out to be a big success with our family.
The suggestion was my idea since our clan included two teenagers with picky taste buds. I felt certain they would like the crispy coating on the chicken. Wiener Schnitzel (“Viennese cutlet”) is a classic dish prepared with thin veal slices that are dredged in flour, then dipped in beaten eggs, and coated with bread crumbs before a quick sautéing. For my version, I replaced veal with chicken, and coated the thin cutlets in eggs first and then in cornmeal, omitting the flour and bread crumbs.
I also included a few contemporary touches, adding smoked paprika to the usual salt and pepper seasonings, and offering a cucumber, radish, and fresh dill salad as a cooling garnish to the rich, pan-fried chicken. I smiled when everyone reached for second tastings of both the schnitzels and the colorful spring salad.
The following recipe serves six, but you can halve it if cooking for a smaller crowd. To streamline the last- minute cooking, while the chicken marinates in lemon juice, measure and set out the seasonings, cornmeal, and beaten eggs. The salad and dressing can be assembled an hour ahead and tossed at serving time. As sides try roasted or grilled asparagus or Israeli couscous with fresh peas.
Print This Recipe
Chicken Schnitzels with Spring Cucumber, Radish, and Dill Salad
1/ 2 English cucumber
6 to 8 radishes, cleaned and thinly sliced to make 1 cup
3 to 4 spring onions thinly sliced to yield 1 cup (See cooking tip)
2 cups fresh dill torn into small pieces
1 hard boiled egg, grated coarsely with a grater
1/4 cup cider vinegar
4 tsp Dijon mustard with seeds
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
6 chicken cutlets (2 1/4 pds total) about 3/8-inch thick (See note.)
5 tbsp lemon juice
2 large eggs
2 tbsp water
2 cups yellow corn meal, plus extra if needed
2 tsp smoked paprika (See note.)
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 thick lemon wedges
1. For salad, halve the unpeeled cucumber lengthwise and cut into thin slices to yield 2 cups. (You may not need to use all of the cucumber.) Add to a salad bowl along with radishes, spring onions, dill, and egg. Toss to combine. (Salad ingredients can be prepared 1 hour ahead. Leave at room temperature.)
2. Whisk vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl. Toss salad with half of the vinaigrette. Then add just enough of the remaining dressing to coat the ingredients lightly. (You may have dressing some left over.) Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
3. For chicken, place cutlets in a shallow nonreactive dish and toss with lemon juice to coat well. Marinate 30 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
3. Spread cornmeal on a large dinner plate or platter. Lightly beat eggs and water in a shallow dish. Remove cutlets from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Combine paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl; season each cutlet on both sides with spices. Dip each cutlet into the egg mixture, then dredge with cornmeal, shaking off any excess.
4. Add oil to lightly coat the bottom of a large, heavy skillet set over medium-high heat. When hot, but not smoking (a drop of water should sizzle when added to the pan), add enough cutlets to fit comfortably in a single layer. Sauté turning once, 3 to 4 minutes per side, until golden brown on both sides. Remove to a baking sheet, and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining cutlets, adding more oil if necessary.
5. Top each cutlet with some salad and garnish with a lemon wedge. Pass remaining salad in the bowl. Serves 6.
Market note: Spring Onions with their white 1-inch bulbs and green tops are not the same as scallions. They have a milder taste than yellow onions and can be used raw or cooked. For the above salad, use only the bulbs, halving them, lengthwise, and then slicing them thinly. If unavailable, substitute a Vidalia onion, quartering it and then slicing.
Market note: You can order chicken cutlets at the butcher department of many supermarkets. Ask the butcher for cutlets made from boneless, skinless chicken breasts that have been butterflied. At home, place them between sheets of plastic wrap and pound them to 3/8-inch thickness.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2018