Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Lemon Chicken Salad with Caramelized Shallots
When I graduated from college and went off to live as a grown-up, my parents surveyed their extensive cookbook collection and gave me the simplest one they owned. Granted, I graduated from college well before Rachael Ray and her 30 minute meals, so what they handed me was Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. It's not an incredibly complicated book, but it can be overwhelming. I learned to master exactly one dish: Sauteed Fillets of Breast of Chicken with Lemon and Parsley. It is this recipe that provided the inspiration for this light summery salad.
LEMON CHICKEN SALAD WITH CARAMELIZED SHALLOTS
2 chicken breasts
3 T butter
3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
Romaine lettuce, washed and dried
juice of one lemon (approx. 4 T) plus 1T additional
Slice the shallots into thin strips, lengthwise. Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to a small pan, add the shallots and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring periodically. Shallots should be golden brown but not crispy.
Once the shallots are well started, begin the chicken. Pound the chicken a bit with either a rolling pin or the bottom of a cast iron pan. You want the chicken to be thinner so it will cook faster, but you don't need it terribly thin. Make sure it is uniform thickness. In a large pan, put a tablespoon of oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. Turn the heat to medium high. When the butter is completely melted (it will probably foam a bit, that's okay), add the chicken breasts. Cook for less than a minute total, just enough on each side for the breast to become pale white rather than pinky. Slide onto a plate, and season well with salt and pepper on both sides. Add the lemon juice to the pan. Let it simmer for about 20 seconds and scrape up any chicken bits stuck to the pan. Then add another tablespoon of butter, stir until the butter is melted and return the chicken to the pan as well as any chicken juices that were on your plate. Cook about 2 more minutes on each side, and then if needed (depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts), cook an additional minute or so on each side. Remove the chicken from the pan, and slice into strips and place on a bed of romaine lettuce. Top with the carmelized shallots. Using a spatula, get all of the lemony, buttery liquid out of the chicken pan and put into a bowl. Add any oil that might be left in your shallot pan. Decide if this is enough to dress your salad with. Mine wasn't quite, so I added an additional tablespoon of lemon juice and an additional tablespoon of oil. Then drizzle the dressing over the top of the salads.