Monday, June 28, 2010

Chaste chicken, chicken clothed in a crispy coating covering the thighs so no child may know its true origins

Some people are happy to see a carcass in it's gory glory before and even during consumption. Some are not. My youngest son is one of the latter and for him I make these chicken schnitzels or "Flat Chicken" as he calls it. Possibly a relative of Cousin Boneless (Cow and Chicken, anyone?)


I make in bulk and freeze, so here is a recipe which will make you at least 20 schnitzels the size of 6 year old's ear, or there a bouts.

You will need:
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
250ml milk
seasoning - I use the generic supermarket season-all product, unless a more up-market manufacturer would like to sponsor me
1 cup of plain flour
2 eggs beaten

1 tablespoon of fine cornmeal or polenta
1 tablespoon of crushed peanuts (optional but my boy needs all the protein he can get)
a lot of dry breadcrumbs - I would say at least 1.5 cups in volume.

Auxillary Equipment:
rolling pin
baking parchment
3 medium sized bowls

1. Trim the surplus fat and bone fragments and sinews from the chicken thighs and lay them out flat.*
2. Take a clean board and cover with a sheet of baking parchment. Place chicken thigh on the lower half and fold the parchment over to cover. With the rolling pin beat until flat. ** 3. Discard parchment paper and cut chicken thighs to size, as a guide 1 thigh should yield five schnitzels.
4. Pour the milk in to a shallow rectangular dish and submerge the chicken. Cover and leave for at least half an hour. ***
5. The egg, flour and crumb station - if you already know about this go to step 7:

You will need plenty of bench space for this procedure which can be messy but well worth mastering. There are few palates can refuse the crunch of perfectly crumbed and fried morsel.
From left to right set up a large plate, a bowl of breadcrumbs mixed with the cornmeal and nuts, a bowl of beaten eggs, a bowl of seasoned flour and the soaking chicken. Tip the milk from the chicken in to the eggs and mix well.

You are going to keep one hand for the dry part of the procedure and the other for the wet. Let's presume you're right handed. Feel like a special flower if you're left. With the right hand take 4 chicken schnitzels and drop in the seasoned flour. Pick up each one individually and pat in the flour until coated, transfer them to the egg bowl and let them submerge. With your left hand take the wet chicken schnitzels out of the egg wash and trail them over the rim of the bowls in to the breadcrumb mix. It is very important to have all the three bowls touching. Sprinkle crumbs over the wet chicken, pat on the side of the bowl to remove excess and place in a flat layer on the plate.
That's it.
Do remember to keep one hand for dry and one for wet as far as possible because this stuff claggs your fingers together if you mix it up too much.
7. If you are going to freeze any of the schnitzels put the plate in the freezer uncovered for an hour then transfer them to a sealed container or freezer bag.
8. To cook: Heat vegetable oil in a small pan to 180 degrees - it must be hot or the crumbs will sop up the oil soggily - and fry on each side until golden brown. Do put a knife through the thickest part of the schnitzel to test it's cooked; salmonella is messier to get off your hands than flour, egg and crumb mix.
If cooking from frozen, let them thaw out first.

I sometimes fry the schnitzels briefly to get colour on each side and then finish them off in the hot oven which is cooking the accompanying crinkle-cut oven chips. If I could get my son to eat tinned spaghetti as a side dish I'd be carried off on a wave of Pommy Childhood Nostalgia. Irretrievably if Pipkins was on the tv at the same time.
SuperMousse for dessert.

courtesy of

* by contrast to Audrey, this chicken dish needs the most fluffing, when raw. I have to get my finger and knife tips right in there to feel for tiny shards of bone left and nick out the head of the vein. And at this point when handling raw meat one should take a moment to marvel at anatomy. This is the ---- veing head I am removing, without which the chicken would not move. Respect.

** note to self don't turn head to watch johny depp in his vest when in the rytm of beating. ow. That's on tv in Public Enemies, not on my sofa in the flesh. Shame.

**why soak in milk? - American recipes usually stipulate this procedure in order to tenderise the meat and stop it from drying out. I am not certain of a scientific principle which upholds this tradition but I 'll get back to you on this one. When I do it I like to fancy I'm in a Nina Simone song. Or Betty Davis. Depends on the weather.


  1. I keep both my hands dry by skilful use of a large fork :-)

  2. I like the look of this, will try them on equally picky 6 year old daughter. Do you have any suggestions for the wheat intolerant? (Me, not her) Thank you.

  3. oooh the wheat intolerant.... What kind of non-hairy breakfast cereal does she take? Is any of it flaky? If so you could use corn flour in the first bowl and crushed crisps and cereal in the second, just make sure it's not too sugary. That's just off the top of my head, I 'll do some more research.


  4. A big hit with picky 8 yr old! We used sliced breast rather than dissecting legs (I do enough of that at work). Tried oven-baking them, but they were too dry- definitely need frying, even if only for a little while. Do you use crushed salted peanuts or unsalted? Haven't been able to find the latter so far.