It seems like forever since I’ve written here. But a new part of my life now that I’m a Southern gal is the inevitable weekend travel to escape the heat. Everybody, and I mean everybody, heads either for the beach or the mountains every weekend here. They all have beach houses and/or mountain homes and miles of interstates to get them there. Living in Central Oregon, I pretty much stayed put, because there was plenty to do, recreation wise, in town and it was just too exhausting to drive over a mountain pass to get to a real city.
So. Much of my cooking has been done either on the fly, in between neighborhood get-togethers or at high elevations (and the occasional sea-level location).
One such weekender meal was this beautiful panko-crusted chicken cutlet served with a fresh and juicy watermelon-tomato and herb salad. I adapted the recipe from Bon Appetit’s pork tonkatsu. To be honest, it was basically chicken schnitzel, but with Japanese breadcrumbs.
Chicken breast pounded thin and dredged in Dijon-whipped eggs, then Japanese breadcrumbs and lightly fried to develop a crispy crust and juicy meat.
I don’t normally like watermelon, but I love the idea of watermelon in salads that are full of herbal flavors. I added some of our fruity CSA grape tomatoes and fresh basil and parsley to an arugula mix. All you need is a simple vinaigrette to pull this colorful salad together. Amazing!
Chicken Tonkatsu with Watermelon-Herb Salad
- 2 cups watermelon cubes
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cups (lightly packed) baby arugula or arugula mix
- 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- ¼ c. torn basil leaves
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice plus 4 lemon wedges
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/8″ thickness
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk olive oil, 1 tablespoon mustard, and juice in a small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Set salad and dressing aside.
Whisk eggs and 1 tablespoon mustard in a medium bowl. Combine panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on a large plate. Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Dip in egg mixture, then in panko, pressing to adhere.
Working in 2 batches, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side, adding 1 tablespoon vegetable oil after turning. Drain on paper towels.
Toss salad with dressing; season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve chicken with salad and lemon wedges for squeezing over.
We enjoyed ours with a nice, crisp glass of white wine and mountain views. It was perfect!
Oh, and our third chicken breast? It became a chicken ‘n a biscuit for the next day’s breakfast. Better than Biscuitville, y’all!