A lovely thing about writing a book about food: People want to feed you.
There were gifts of chocolate in both Paris and San Francisco. In Chicago, a reader showed up at my Women & Children First book signing with a box of home-made beef rendang (Indonesian-style beef curry) so tender and so delicious that I still think about it with great longing. And in Singapore, a very sweet cookbook author came to my Books Kinokuniya reading bearing a packet of fried carrot cake — so freshly cooked it was still hot! — from a hawker stall so popular you generally have to line up for half an hour just to snag a plate.
Just as thoughtful as the food offerings have been the recipes readers have shared. Some have been in their families for generations; others are more avant garde.
And among them all is a recipe so simple (and terrific) that it’s now part of my regular rotation: Chicken cutlets Meunière, gleaned from a charming little book club in New York City …
I should note that I adore book clubs — I love answering their questions and I love it when they come to readings (as the wonderful Slice of Mooncake book club recently did at Omnivore Books in San Francisco).
In New York, I had the privilege of spending a wonderful evening a few months ago with a book club that made a delicious meal — home-made banana bread, asparagus pesto, haroset and more. And I left that evening with their recipes in hand — among them was a busy working mom’s recipe for easy chicken cutlets breaded with chopped nuts and fried in olive oil.
This recipe is so simple that I’ve turned to it frequently when it’s late in the day and I have little energy to cook — I sometimes add some grated parmesan to the breading mixture; sometimes I’ll dredge the chicken in beaten egg to help the nuts stick better. Always, though, the outcome is delicious.
As with any gift, it’s often best shared. So, here’s the recipe below.
Give it a whirl, tell me how it goes — or better yet, share one of your own recipes with me. As you may have guessed from my book, this girl is always hungry for more.
Chicken Cutlets Meunière
Yield: 4 servings
* 4 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (2 breasts), 1 to 1 1/2 pounds
* Salt and black pepper
* 1 cup (approximately) of crushed almonds and walnuts… (I added a little bread crumb to coat more of the chicken)
* Olive Oil for cooking
* 1 to 2 tablespoons butter, optional
* 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons minced parsley.
1. Heat a 12-inch skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. While it is heating, sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and place the crushed nuts on a plate.
2. Place the oil in the skillet, to a depth of about 1/8 inch and turn the heat to high. When the oil is hot, dredge the cutlets in the coating, turning them a few times and pressing them down so they are well covered. After you dredge each, add it to the pan.
3. Cook until the chicken is nicely brown, 3 to 4 minutes, then turn. Cook 1 to 2 minutes until the chicken is firm to the touch (lower the heat if the coating begins to scorch).
4. Meanwhile, if using the butter, place in a small pan over medium heat and cook until it is nut-brown.
5. When the chicken is done, drain it briefly on a paper towel, then transfer to a warm platter.
Drizzle with lemon juice, and top with half the parsley. At the last minute, pour the browned butter over the chicken, add the remaining parsley and serve.