Lemon Chicken Milanese with Couscous Salad

Lemon Chicken Milanese with Couscous Salad

Chicken Milanese is a fancy name for breaded, fried chicken cutlets. My recipe takes this simple idea a little further by marinating the chicken in a lemon based marinade and adding lemon zest to the bread crumbs.

Typically served with arugula salad, I went down another road to celebrate my garden fresh string beans and tomatoes. The couscous salad can be eaten hot or cold and is packed full of string beans, black olives, grape tomatoes, roasted red peppers strips, garlic, fresh thyme and ricotta salata. It is dressed up in a basic red wine vinegar dressing with a hint of lemon to brighten up the flavors.

Couscous Salad

Do you eat couscous? If you don’t, you should! It’s as easy to make as boiling water, pouring it over top and waiting a few minutes while it ‘cooks’. It doesn’t get any easier than that! Couscous is a healthy grain made with semolina and rolled into tiny grains that are steamed. It’s a blank canvas for a palette of flavors. And one of the most versatile, delicious foods I know of. Not to mention it is also one of my current obsessions. 

There are quite a few steps to this recipe, but most of them can and should be done ahead of time. The marinade can be made the night before or the morning of and the couscous can also be made ahead. The extra step of marinating the chicken is so worth it. The longer you can marinate it the better. The lemon flavor will not only shine through but will cause the chicken to be extra juicy and tender. It also makes some of the the best sandwiches! And serves as the base for some awesome Chicken Parmesan. Smother in mozzarella and tomato sauce; bake until cheese is melted and starts to brown.

Lemon Chicken Milanese with Couscous Salad

Couscous Salad
(inspired by Giada De Laurentiis)

1/2 Onion, diced
1 cup Fresh String Beans, ends trimmed, cut in 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Fresh Black Pepper
3 cloves Garlic
3/4 cup Whole Wheat Couscous, uncooked
1 cup Boiling Water
3/4 cup Small Black Olives
1/3 cup Red Pepper, roasted or fresh, thinly sliced
1/2 heaping cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup Ricotta Salata, Parmesan, or Feta, crumbled
1 tablespoon Fresh Lemon or Regular Thyme or Basil, chopped
2 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard

1. In a large skillet or saute pan heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and beans. Saute until onion are soft and translucent. Add garlic and season with salt and pepper. When garlic is fragrant remove from heat. Stir in couscous and boiling water. Cover for 10 minutes. Remove cover and allow to cool if serving cold. If not go right to step 2 without uncovering.

2. Meanwhile make the dressing by whisking all ingredients together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. The dressing may seem like a lot but you want extra to spill over onto the chicken when serving and the couscous will soak some of it up.

3. In a large mixing bowl toss couscous with the olives, peppers, tomatoes, cheese and thyme. Pour dressing over top and toss again. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or refrigerate to serve cold.

Couscous Salad

Lemon Chicken Milanese
(adapted from Michael Chiarello)

About 1 pound Chicken Cutlets
Lemon wedges, for serving

1 Lemon, zested and juiced*
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup Vegetable or Olive oil
3 cloves Garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon Dried Thyme**
1 teaspoon Dried Basil
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt and 1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 heaping cup Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Lemon zest, set aside from marinade
1/4 teaspoon Salt
A few grinds of Black Pepper
1 + 1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 cup all-purpose Flour
2 eggs
Vegetable Oil for pan-frying

1. Set the lemon zest aside to go into the bread crumb mixture. A few hours before cooking in a large shallow pan or large bowl whisk all the marinade ingredients together. Add chicken cutlets and refrigerate. Can also place it all in a large Ziploc bag if desired.

2. To make the coating combine the bread crumbs, cheese, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Work in the olive oil by hand, pinching it between your fingers. Set up a dredging station. Spread the crumb mixture onto a dinner plate or in a shallow, wide bowl. Spread the flour on another dinner plate/bowl. In another shallow bowl beat the eggs.

3. Dip the cutlets in the flour to coat both sides and shake off the excess. Then dip in the egg letting any excess drip back into the bowl. Then oat the cutlets on both sides with the seasoned bread crumbs pressing them into place. As each cutlet is coated, place it on a tray. Cover the cutlets and refrigerate for 1/2 to 1 hour.

4. In a large skillet heat enough oil to generously cover the bottom. Heat over medium-high heat. Test it by carefully dropping in a little flour or bread crumbs. Should sizzle right away. Cook cutlets in batches, don’t crowd the pan. Cook until golden on the bottom, turn and cook on the second side until golden (internal temperature 165 degrees Fahrenheit). Should take 2-3 minutes on each side depending on their size. Using tongs carefully lift the cutlets as they are done allowing any excess oil to drain back into pan. Set on paper towels to drain.

5. Serve immediately with couscous salad and lemon wedges.

*Microwave for 15 seconds and roll against counter using the palm of your hand to get the most juice out of your lemon.

**Pinch dried herbs between your fingers to ‘wake’ up the flavor.

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Lemon Chicken Milanese with Couscous Salad

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