MoM Feb. ’09 – Best of America’s Test Kitchen: Crispy Garlic Chicken Cutlets

Though we aren’t sharing recipes from this month’s Magazine of the Month, Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2008, I have found the one reason as to why you should go and pick it up at your local grocery store:

ATK - Crispy Garlic Chicken Cutlets
Photo courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen

You are looking at a picture of my current most favorite dish ever. I’ve made it a couple of times so far, and will make it until everyone in my house is sick of it. Then I’m still going to keep making it. This dish alone is worth the $7.95 it costs to pick up this magazine, and I’m not kidding.

The Test Kitchen shows their love for garlic with this one, giving the chicken a shot of garlic in, not one, but three ways.

First, the chicken is marinated in minced garlic and oil for 30 minutes. The breasts are then coated in a homemade breadcrumb mixture with garlic powder. For the final touch, the breasts are cooked in a bit of oil that had been infused with smashed garlic. Despite all of the garlic, I was still kissable after the meal.

What impressed me the most about this wasn’t the garlic, it was the texture of the breading. Admittedly, I’ve had a hard time in the past with breaded chicken breasts. Using store bought breadcrumbs has yielded simplistic results. I’m not opposed to them; they get the job done. Unfortunately they lack the fresh, clean and light results I would prefer: I want something thick and fluffy! Store bought crumbs, on the other hand, coat your chicken with very small, hard crumbs and, when using boneless, skinless breasts, only form a thin coating. With the Garlic Chicken Cutlets, I ended up with a completely different experience. If you put the two chicken breasts side by side, they wouldn’t even look as if they were related.

For this dish, they recommend either pounding your chicken out flat or cutting it in half, horizontally. I was only serving two, so I used one chicken breast and cut it in half. Economical — that’s a bonus in my book.

As I’ve already said, the breasts marinate for 30 minutes in minced garlic and oil. While that is going on, the breadcrumb mixture is prepared and toasted in the oven.

Chicken Cutlets - Breadcrumbs & Garlic

Once that’s ready, the chicken is then dipped in a light coating of flour, then into whipped up egg whites — which will not only create lightness, but it will allow for a thicker coating of the garlic-breadcrumb mixture to stick.

Chicken Cutlets - Coating the Chicken

And that’s where it’s going next: The breadcrumb and garlic powder mixture. Press to adhere so lots of delicious breading can get on there.

Chicken Breasts - Drying

The breasts are dried on a rack for 5 minutes, and we turn our attention to the frying pan.

Smashed garlic is dropped into oil, and the pan is heated up.

Chicken Cutlets - Smashed Garlic Cooking in Oil

Once the garlic starts to brown, it is removed from the pan and the chicken cutlets go in for 2 minutes per side.

Chicken Cutlets - Frying Chicken 1

Chicken Cutlets - Frying Chicken 2

These are served up with a side of pasta that was cooked in well seasoned water. If your water isn’t seasoned and/or the pasta is overcooked, it’s really going to fall flat up against the chicken. I’ve served the pasta plain and served with a little butter, and I have to say I prefer it plain next to chicken that was just frying in oil, but that’s just me. My recommendation is definitely to serve it up with a side of pasta.

Crispy Garlic Chicken Cutlet

So good, and not too overpowering. The breading is incredibly fluffy and delicious, making it just a pleasant food to eat. I could have this almost every night. Overall dinner score is high because the taste and texture of the chicken really bring it home.

As a weeknight cooking dish, this falls down a little for me. Because I love it, I’ll make the supreme sacrifice and continue to cook it up however, there are a couple of issues. Despite how hard the Test Cook tried to keep the cooking time at a minimum, there’s a marinating time plus the time it takes to toast up the breadcrumbs on top of everything else. Even if that wasn’t an issue, the real clincher for me is the amount of dishes it takes to make it. Not only are you using three separate containers to bread the chicken, the food processor comes out to break down the bread, a cookie sheet is employed to toast the bread, a separate rack is used to just to dry the chicken… There’s a lot going on here in terms of dishes and clean up that bothers me.

So, although this is my current favorite dish ever, it’s a bit inefficient and will be frustrating for someone who worked a full day and comes home to do more chores and get dinner on the table. I’m not going to lie about that, because I won’t be making this if I’m on a short fuse that night.

Still, it’s delicious. I ate it again for dinner last night.

Overall Dinner Grade: A
Weeknight Cooking Grade: B-

Best of America's Test Kitchen

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