Breading and frying is not something I ever look forward to doing. It can be messy, and the idea of eating fried food never quite sits well with me. However, when I saw the panko bread crumbs at the grocery store, my inquisitiveness got the best of me. What exactly is panko?
I have certainly heard of panko bread crumbs, seen chefs using it on the Food Network, perhaps even tried foods that were encrusted in them, but I have never cooked with it-and quite frankly, wasn't sure there was much of a difference between panko and my usual Italian-style blend.
I mean, they're bread crumbs...right?
Well, it turns out Panko bread crumbs are used primarily in Japanese cooking, and are a lighter flakier bread crumb than what is generally found in western cooking. The Japanese achieve this texture by passing an electric current through the dough during the cooking process, which yields a crustless bread with a crispy, airy quality.
So, ever the adventurer-I purchased the fancy panko bread crumbs and set to frying up some chicken cutlets. I noticed immediately the airiness, although the crumbs themselves were actually larger than the bread crumb mixture I'm accustomed to, almost sand-like, and nearly white. I noticed during the cooking process, the chicken would actually puff up and turn a beautiful golden color.
Upon serving, the crust on the cutlets was so light and crispy, I can honestly say I didn't feel badly at all eating fried chicken cutlets! I made a simple sauce with diced tomatoes, mushrooms and calamata olives, and wilted some baby spinach in, for good measure; topped it all off with shaved parmasean, and voila-dinner served in under thirty minutes!
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did, enjoy!
Panko Encrusted Chicken Cutlets With A Tomato, Spinach, Mushroom And Olive Sauce
3 lbs. thinly sliced chicken cutlets
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. panko bread crumbs
3-4 T. olive oil
1/2 c. mushrooms, quartered
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 48 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/4 c. calamata olives, pitted
1 bag of baby spinach
1/4 c. shaved parmasan cheese
Begin by dipping chicken in egg mixture, then coat in panko. Heat olive oil in a saute pan on medium, and add cutlets. Be sure not to crowd to avoid overcooking or uneven cooking, and add a little olive oil to keep the cutlets cooking, as needed. Lightly salt and pepper. Cutlets should be browned after 4-6 minutes, when the edges are white and the center puffs up. Once browned, flip over and continue browning. Set cutlets aside to cool slightly.
To make the sauce:
In a saute pan, heat 1 T. of olive oil and add mushrooms and garlic. Lightly salt and pepper, (about 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper). Cook for 3-4 minutes, and add tomatoes, olives and spinach. Cook through until spinach is wilted. Serve over cutlets with a topping of shaved parasan or romano cheese.