This dish is a staple of good Italian restaurants and my litmus test of their touch. This is how I make it after years of sampling chefs takes on it and settling on my own. It’s quicker than it sounds. Once you’ve made it a few times you’ll be moving through the steps like a short order cook. It’s one of my last minute favorites.
-1 breast half from a 4-5 lb. chicken (for 2 people)
-3/4 cup flour
-1 large egg, beaten
-8 very thin lemon slices
-1 level tbsp. capers, lightly crushed
-2 tbsp. chopped parsley
-1/4 cup dry artisan cider or white wine
-4 med. cloves garlic, sliced
-1/2 cup chicken stock, room temp.
Place chicken breast on cutting board with its long axis parallel to your countertop and smooth side up. Slice roughly equal, thin, oblong medallions with horizontal blade angle cutting from the direction of the narrow tip toward the rounded end. Start first slice just before the rounded hump to make a natural medallion. Back the knife toward the tip to start each successive slice angling blade to produce 7-8 similar medallions.Tenderize, flatten and spread the medallions using the bottom of a small, but heavy cast saucepan as a hammer.
Preheat oven to 175 degrees F. Put flour and egg in shallow bowls arrayed alongside a medium skillet on its burner with medallions adjacent. Set burner to medium, add oil liberally and garlic. Infuse the oil by sautéeing the garlic till transparent, removing just the garlic to a saucer before it starts to brown and reserve.
Dredge medallions in flour on both sides, patting to help the flour stick. Raise heat to med. high, melt 1 tbsp. butter into the oil. As soon as the butter begins to bubble spread it around the skillet using the panhandle to create a swirling motion in the pan. Immediately dip one medallion at a time in the egg with a fork letting excess drip back into the bowl but leaving the medallion completely covered then lay in the pan. Repeat, one medallion at a time till pan is full, shuffling pan frequently to keep them from sticking. Fairly quickly, the skin on each medallion sets up, it won’t stick if jostled occasionally.
When the bottom of each medallion is just turning golden but not very brown, flip and repeat for the reverse side. Add oil as needed to keep them frying. Reduce heat some if they start to brown too fast to cook through. Remove finished ones to a plate and keep warm in the oven. Repeat for a second batch, if needed, pouring off oil if too dark, adding fresh oil and butter for the second batch, wiping out the pan first if necessary to remove any residue before it darkens the second batch.
The finished medallions should still show some egg color mottled with golden brown. Don’t worry about undercooking because, flattened, they cook through in a flash to a nice, moist texture. Turn off oven and put the medallions in on a plate to keep warm. Don’t dry them out over-cooking. They will finish in the sauce later.
Now turn the burner up to medium high, toss-in the lemon, caramelize the rinds, even letting them crisp around the edge if they will. Remove them to a saucer and reserve. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and evaporate the alcohol.
Reduce heat to med. low. Add 2 tbsp. more butter, reserved garlic, capers and most of the parsley. Squeeze in 1/4 lemon, and stir in leftover flour one tbsp. a time, stirring, only until you have a viscous bubbling paste. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes more, stirring and flipping over to cook evenly. Then, stir in enough cool stock to thoroughly dissolve the paste, stirring constantly. Let sauce thicken, adding stock a little at a time until a creamy sauce is achieved.
Now it’s time to check for acidity. If too piquant for your taste, stir in a little sugar to take the edge off, but not to sweeten. Turn off burner, spread the cooked medallions around over the sauce. cover the pan and allow them to steam for 5 min. before plating.
Closely array 1/2 of the medallions with lemon slices down the middle of each of two dinner plates or toward one edge if you want your sides on the same plate. Go light on the side portions to allow the medallions to rule. Spoon the amount of sauce desired over the chicken, but don’t drown it. Let the pretty medallions display themselves to the eye and reveal their own succulent juiciness to the mouth. Sprinkle with reserved parsley.