Chicken and Salsa Verde

One of the nice things about being a food editor at a newspaper is that I have access to many good recipes. Just about every day, I receive half-dozen to a dozen e-mails that include recipes. I also get some via snail mail, too. But perhaps the best recipes that I see are those from the wire services.

The Associated Press sends numerous recipes each week. I also have access to the McClatchy Tribune wire service database of recipes. Each week, new ones are added. Many of the recipes come from the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune’s Good eating section is chock-full of good recipes, and each year, they put together a list of the best recipes in the past 12 months.

Here is one of the recipes from 2010 that the Tribune deemed worthy of the list. It’s called Panko-Crusted Chicken Cutlets. It’s a recipe that looks pretty good and one that I’m considering. It’s also one in which I can substitute pheasant breasts for chicken.

Panko-Crusted Chicken Cutlets with Salsa Verde
1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt thinned with skim milk
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3 cups (6 ounces) panko bread crumbs
¾ cup peanut or vegetable oil
Salsa verde (recipe follows)
Parsley or cilantro sprigs
Mix the buttermilk, garlic and mustard in a large shallow dish. Place a chicken breast between two sheets of heavy plastic wrap; lightly pound to ½-inch thickness. Add the chicken to the buttermilk mixture; turn to coat it well. Repeat with remaining chicken. Cover chicken; refrigerate 1 to 4 hours.
Mix flour and salt on a plate. Mix eggs with 2 tablespoons water in a pie plate. Put panko crumbs into another plate. Remove chicken from the buttermilk mixture; shake off excess. Lightly coat each breast with flour mixture. Dip into eggs to coat both sides. Roll in crumbs to cover completely. Place chicken on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Let stand 20 minutes.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Set another wire rack over a baking sheet; place in the oven. Heat ¼ inch of oil in a skillet large enough to hold some of the chicken in a single, uncrowded layer. (Use 2 skillets if necessary.) Add the chicken.
Fry over medium-high heat (adjust heat so oil does not smoke) until golden, about 3 minutes. Turn; fry until golden and chicken is almost firm when pressed, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the rack in the oven while you cook the rest. Lightly drizzle some of the salsa onto 6 plates. Top with a piece of chicken. Garnish with parsley.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 625 calories, 49 percent of calories from fat, 34 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 128 milligrams cholesterol, 42 grams carbohydrates, 37 grams protein, 1,034 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Salsa Verde
2 to 3 serrano chilies, stemmed, seeded
2 green onions, trimmed, roughly chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups (about 2 ounces) baby spinach leaves
½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
Drop chilies, onions and garlic into a food processor with the machine running to mince finely.
Add remaining ingredients.
Process, scraping container once or twice, until smooth.
Adjust with a little more water if needed for a smooth, slightly thick sauce. Can refrigerate 2 to 3 days.
Yield: ½ cup.
Note: Choose the amount of chili and garlic you wish to use based on your affinity for heat and spice.
Approximate nutritional analysis per tablespoon: 67 calories, 88 percent of calories from fat, 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated) fat, no cholesterol, 2 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 300 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.