I love chicken, especially roasted chicken. One of my favorite chicken dishes is my Breaded Chicken Cutlets With Tomatoes & Arugula. This is my go to dish when I have limited time for cooking, but when I want to make something tasty and filling. We will be leaving Umbria in just a few weeks, and I am beginning to panic when I look into my freezer. I have a LOT of stuff to use up before we leave Italy in October!
I am a poultry lover and since we do not eat much if any red meat at home, we eat a lot of vegetables based meals, with some seafood and chicken thrown in once in a while. I apparently buy a lot of poultry on sale, because looking through my freezer last week I found a lot of chicken parts. Because I need to use up this chicken surplus, we have been eating a lot of it lately. This week I decided that I wanted to try something new, using up some of my chicken breasts, homemade pesto from the freezer, and some of the last of our cherry tomatoes from the garden. I also had two balls of buffalo mozzarella that I had to buy at the grocery a couple of days ago because they were so cheap. I could have simply served the mozzarella with the tomatoes as the first course in a Caprese salad, but I decided to throw my chicken and pesto into the mix as well.
I cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise, breaded them, and roasted them in the oven in my usual manner. I then topped the chicken with slices of buffalo mozzarella and broiled them just until the cheese got all melted and gooey. I then took the chicken out of the oven and drizzled it with some of my homemade pesto, then spooned on some sweet baby tomatoes that I had tossed with olive oil and minced garlic. The chicken was moist and tender, and the combination of melted mozzarella, fresh tasting pesto sauce, and sweet cherry tomatoes was a perfect topping! I always prefer making my own homemade breading mixture, but if you are short for time you can use a store bought version, but it does make a difference in the flavor though when you make your own. Buffalo mozzarella isn’t a necessity, and I used it simply because I had it on hand. Do buy a good quality brand of mozzarella. I wanted to use up my garden tomatoes so I use tiny cherry tomatoes, but any ripe, good tasting tomato will work just fine, just cut it into a small dice. If the chicken pieces are not an even thickness, you might want to use a meat mallet to create an equal thickness so they cook evenly.
Deborah Mele 2017
For The Chicken:
- 2 Medium to Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Halved Lengthwise
- 3 Cups Stale Bread Cubes
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Grated Zest From 1 Lemon
- 1/2 to 1 Teaspoon Chopped Hot Red Chile Pepper (Optional)
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/3 Cup Pine Nuts
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 2 large Eggs
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
For The Tomato Topping:
- 2 Cups Halved Cherry Tomatoes (Or 2 Cups Diced Ripe Tomatoes - See Notes Above)
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Large Garlic Clove, Finely Minced
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 1/3 Cup Homemade Basil Pesto
- 2 Small Balls Buffalo Mozzarella, Sliced (Or 4 Slices Mozzarella)
- Fresh Basil Leaves As Garnish
- For the cutlets, place the bread cubes, lemon zest, chile pepper, parsley, grated cheese, salt and pepper in the food processor, and pulse until finely blended.
- Add the pine nuts and pulse just until the nuts are coarsely chopped and dump mixture into a shallow bowl.
- Beat the eggs in a separate shallow bowl.
- Working 1 piece of chicken at a time, dip into the eggs, and then breadcrumbs pressing down with your fingertips to help the crumbs adhere.
- Place the breaded cutlets on a baking sheet, and refrigerate the for 1 hour to allow the crumb coating to set.
- In a small bowl, mix together the tomato topping ingredients and set aside until needed.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil, then place the butter and oil on top.
- Place the pan in the oven for a few minutes to melt the butter.
- Turn the pan to coat evenly with the butter mixture, then place the chicken on top.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then turn and bake another 10 minutes until cooked through.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and place the mozzarella on top to cover.
- Turn the oven broiler to high, then return the pan to the oven and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Place the chicken onto a platter, then drizzle with the pesto sauce and spoon the tomato mixture on top.
- Serve immediately.