Now breasts of chicken are not something about which I usually get very worked up. Yes, things can be Done to them: like rolling them in layers of herbs and ricotta and lemon zest and packaging them in netvet (caul fat), or, failing such an esoteric item of anatomy residing in your fridge, stitching them shut with toothpicks or a skewer.
Other parts of that wonderful bird interest me more: more flavourful, juicy, tender: thighs, leg 'n thigh combos...Wings. And breasts are expensive. I guess that depends on the audience. I think they're expensive. Call me a wing woman.
Logically, then, here follows a breast recipe. The one thing they have going for them: Low fat, and texture to work with.
Beat them, I say.
This idea came from the paillard served at Schiller's on the Lower East Side:
Lay one breast flat on a chopping block. If you want to be very neat and avoid splashes, lay a piece of clingfilm or wax paper under the breast and lay another over it, both at last three times the size of the meat, and wack away with a rolling pin or similar heavy object, working your anger, frustration or sadness out from the middle to the sides. Otherwise just beat it with pleasure. I like to have some texture left at the end so mine are never too thin.
Remove the plastic or paper, transfer the chicken to a shallow bowl and cover in the juice of a lemon or a lime, salt and pepper for about an hour. Some crushed garlic helps.
Heat a pan, wait till it's really hot and the olive oil you've put in it is running races with itself, and add the chicken. Lots of sizzling. Leave for about 1 -2 minutes, depending on thickness, and flip. Cook once on each side. Don't turn over and over. Nothing good comes of it.
Take out of the pan, put on a warm plate and allow to REST for 5 minutes. A rested chicken will be much more tender.
Salad, Version One:
Make a salad of two cupfuls of flatleaf parsley, a quarter of a red onion, thinly sliced, a squeeze of lemon, salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil. I added halved cherry tomatoes. Toss. Plate your breast, and put a heap of dressed salad on top. Deglaze the chicken's pan with more lemon or a slosh of white wine, cook off , reduce and pour over the top.
Salad, Version Two:
I made this after making bagna cauda, of which I still had some left.
To approximate leftover bagna cauda, melt in very small pot, 2 Tbsp of olive oil with 2 anchovies and a clove of finely chopped garlic. I say melt because they should cook at a scant heat for about 8 minutes. The garlic becomes soft, not brown, and the salty fish disintegrates when stirred.
Add this to your favourite vinaigrette. No, your favourite vinaigrette does not come ready-made out of a bottle, not even if the bottle has Paul Newman (may-he-live-forever)'s face on it. Use sherry vinegar. It's nice.
4 parts oil (EV olive or walnut)
1 part vinegar
And dissolve your pinches of sugar and salt in the vinegar before adding the oil. They can't dissolve in oil. Cracked pepper can be added any time. It will never dissolve. Ever.
Toss the leaves you have (arugula, flat parsley, frisee) in the anchovied vinaigrette and pile on top of your chicken breast. Which could also be a veal chop.
In my dreams.