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!
Yes! Mark Bittman does a similar salad, and you can swap out peaches for either the watermelon or the tomatoes. So good.
I’m still not on board with the whole concept of boiled peanuts (they sound so gross I haven’t managed to put one in my mouth yet) but the obsession with biscuits out here is one thing that I predict will stick with me.
Biscuits and the use of waffles as a receptacle for fried chicken. Done.
That is just beautiful and I love the idea of using it in leftovers too!