Saturday, August 4, 2007

Ed Giobbi's Chicken Cutlets

Adapted from Eat Right, Eat Well -- The Italian Way by Edward Giobbi

Serves 6

I think Italian food is healthy food, especially if eaten the way Italians in Italy eat - small portions of pasta, small portions of protein, lots of vegetables, and fruit for dessert.  In 1985 Edward Giobbi, an artist who happens to be be a great home cook and who is the person credited with creating the recipe for Pasta Primavera, wrote a cookbook in collaboration with Richard Wolff, M.D., featuring "heart-healthy" recipes. In the following recipe beaten egg whites are used instead of the whole egg to bind the breadcrumbs to the chicken, and the result is very light and delicious, so go ahead and try it for that reason. However, I assume the original reason egg yolks are not included in this recipe is to avoid egg yolks, which I personally don't avoid.

Eggs are a subject about which I am quite a fanatic. To me an egg is nature's perfect food. Eggs are delicious even when prepared with no added fat, such as poached or boiled. Eggs are really delicious lightly fried in olive oil and served on top of pasta oglio olio. Eggs are delicious scrambled. Oh, forget it, eggs are just plain yummy, and avoiding the yolk, which, granted, has all the fat in an egg, eliminates almost half the protein and all the choline, which is great for your brain and also helps with the proper distribution of the cholesterol. And without any fat in your diet, you cannot absorb vitamins A, D, E, or K. And for goodness sake, don't eat egg white omelets

To do without the yolk is not only a culinary loss but a nutritional one as well:  The yolk helps the body digest the white's proteins.  (And we now know that fears of the yolk's cholesterol are largely overblown.)  It's also a refusal to participate in the found poetry of the whole egg.  A yolk and a white are like yin and yang, peanut butter and jelly; two halves that only reach perfection in the pairing.
                                                                  Hugh Garvey, Bon Appetit

If you don't want to eat egg yolks, have a smoothie!

By the way, Ed Giobbi's books are really nice. He illustrates them beautifully, and since he's a home cook, his recipes are very user-friendly, although some of his ingredients (like chicken feet) might be considered fare for the adventurous eater.

Chicken Cutlets
Adapted from Eat Right, Eat Well -- The Italian Way by Edward Giobbi

3 whole chicken breasts, split, skinned, boned, and fat removed
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 lemons, one for juice and one for garnish
2 egg whites, lightly whipped
Vegetable oil (I use grapeseed)

Using a meat pounder, flatten the chicken breasts between two sheets of waxed paper. Salt the breasts and lay them in a bowl. Add the sliced garlic and the juice of one of the lemons and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours, but no more as the lemon will start to "cook" the chicken.

Remove the breasts from the marinade, dip them first in the in egg whites and next in the breadcrumbs. You can refrigerate them for a little while at this point.

Heat about ¼-inch oil in a skillet until hot. Cook the cutlets in the oil until brown; turning them once is best, but the proper-cooking police won't come get you if you have to flip them again. Just don't overcook them.

When cooked, blot on paper towels, and serve with pepper and lemon wedges.

*I have never made this recipe with panko, but I can't think of a reason why it wouldn't work well if you prefer panko to regular bread crumbs (I don't).  But if the idea of panko appeals to you, you will be interested to see what Florence Fabricant says in an August 9, 2016, article in the  NYTimes about the chicken paillard from chef Sylvain Delpique at the "21" Club:

"he dips the chicken in lightly beaten egg whites as usual, then applies a sheer coating of panko and Parmigiano-Reggiano. But here’s the trick: he pounds the breast about a half-inch thick after the breading, instead of before. Then he uses a plate as a template to shape a generous round of the chicken, cutting away the excess. Finally, he sautés the chicken in olive oil, plates it and piles the salad on top."

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