How to Saute a Flattened Chicken
...and why you would want to try!
There are some recipes that ask for a flattened chicken breast, and many people wonder why. Here I will have a short discussion on why you would want to cook with chicken, explain why you would want to flatten a chicken breast, and some options for creating a meal with it once you have it.
Why flatten chicken?
This is a question a lot of people have. Why go to all the extra effort to flatten chicken? Firstly, a flattened chicken is a lot easier to work with. When a piece of meat is all the same size, it all gets done cooking at the same time. This means you don't have to worry about different textures or level of cooking through something like you could get with your average large chicken breast that can range from .2 inches to 2 inches and leaves the level of cooking up to the imagination. It can go to aridly dry and hard, to underdone. This is not something that we want from our chicken and can easily be fixed by first flattening our chicken.
How to Flatten Chicken
There are many ways to flatten chicken. In the olden days one would just grab something heavy and beat the chicken breast into submission. However these days we are more civilized. The best way to complete this task is simple and clean.
Take two pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap and lay the breast between it. Make sure you have pieces that are big enough to cover and protect a larger piece of meat than you have since it will spread out. Calmly take either a rubber or steel spiked mallet (dull spikes, we aren't trying to puncture it) and start pounding away at the chicken breast from the center out. After a few minutes, you should have a nice flat piece of chicken to work with. Being too violent with your chicken will make it shred or uneven and not how you intend it, so be gentle and careful until you get the hang of it.
One of the easiest ways to serve a flattened, sauteed chicken is Chicken Piccata. Piccata is actually a general form of cooking a thin meat. Originally in Italy it was made with veal, but it lends itself easily to substituting chicken.
- All-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup rinsed brined capers
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Firstly we flatten the chicken out. Next we melt two tablespoons of butter with three tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. Add up to two of those pieces of chicken after you coat them in flour and cook them for 3 minutes before flipping and then cooking on the other side for another 3 minutes or until nicely browned. Your chicken should be cooked now so remove it to a plate, leaving as many juices as possible because this will used for a sauce base. Do this as many times as you want for the amount of chicken you want to serve.
With the pan on low heat add capers, stock, and lemon juice and bring it up to a boil. Make sure you try to get everything from the bottom of the pan since those are where the flavors are. After making sure you have the sauce seasoned to taste, put all the chicken back into the pan and simmer for around 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to your serving plate, add two tablespoons of butter, and mix the sauce together again. After pouring the sauce over the chicken, you are done!
Oven Baked: Chicken Cordon Bleu
There are MANY other uses of flattened chicken including the famous Chicken Cordon Bleu. This is not sauteed but is a kind of flattened chicken recipe that is important to know because it is the base of many rolled, flattened, and breaded chicken recipes that are in the world.
These are far more simple than people give them credit for. For instance, all you really do is put out a slab of chicken, flatten it, put bacon, ham, or prosciutto on a nice layer, and then another layer of cheese before rolling it, breading it, and popping it into the oven for about 25 minutes.
How to prepare:
4 chicken breasts
4 slices of ham (or enough bacon or prosciutto to cover the same area)
1/2 pound of cheese (Cheddar, Gruyere, Pepper Jack, etc)
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4th cup flour
1 clove of garlic minced
Salt and Pepper for taste
Use 1/4th the ingredients for each piece of chicken. Roll them up and dip them into the egg and then breading mixture to get a good coating of crumbs. When all the rolls are coated, put them on a lightly greased baking pan and slide them in for about 20-25 or until they are golden brown and cooked through.