Bad and Bougie
My friend Rachel is bougie and is always cooking from the New York Times Cooking recipes. And while I, too, appreciate all that is bougie, I mostly just enjoy using the word bougie. Historically my impression of NYT Cooking has been that it lacks personality. Even still, I knew I needed to give the bourgeosie a shot since my goal is to have a working knowledge of which recipes yield tasty foods and which ones end with my failure.
Good news: this recipe works!
But first, I need to get this spelling situation out of the way. Apparently Scallopini is spelled different ways, similarly to doughnuts and donuts. (UGH!) Sometimes it spelled Scallopini. Other times its spelled Scaloppine. NYT Cooking and Ree Drummond spell it as Scaloppine, if that means anything to you. I’ll probably use the spelling interchangeably because I can’t tell right from wrong.
Me + Cooking Chicken = Feelings of Anxiety
But here’s the deal with me + cooking chicken. It scares me. I usually undercook it or overcook it. And both of those options are disgusting, right?
The idea of cooking meat on the stove overwhelms me because I feel like I am supposed to be actively engaged while it’s cooking on the stove, as opposed to it cooking in the oven. Generally when meat is cooking on the stove it’s for a shorter amount of time, and time is moving quickly, at any moment I could overcook my meat to a lump of tough muscle, so I need to be actively engaged making choices and decisions. But time is moving more slowly when meat is cooking in the oven, and I am passively engaged until the end of the estimated cook time at which point I begin looking for signs up doneness. Either way, on the stove or in the oven, looking for signs of doneness paralyzes me with fear.
Chicken Scaloppine & Why This Recipe Works
But with this recipe I cooked the paillards about 2 minutes on each side, until the chicken was a golden brown, and this chicken was so tender and so flavorful that even I did not mess it up– I got it right on my first try!! Which obviously means that you can, too!
A few things make this recipe work in my favor.
To begin with, the recipe calls for chicken thighs. Chicken thighs, which are a dark meat, are higher in fat– so we know that automatically translates into yummy– and dark meat takes longer to cook, making it more difficult to overcook.
Secondly, the chicken is tender because we have to pound it into a 1/4 inch thickness. These thinly pounded pieces of meat are now called paillards, and this is how I will refer to them in the recipe. You can use a meat pounder, or wine bottle, or the bottom of a heavy skillet to pound the meat. Or, a rolling pin! Or, your fists! (Totally just LYING on that last suggestion. ;-))
Lastly, there is so much butter and olive oil used in this recipe (yikes!) that you really can’t go wrong. This recipe is setting you up for success, people.
My Cooking Notes
The recipe instructs you to use two skillets to cook the paillards. After each paillard finishes cooking you are supposed to use a paper towel to wipe the pan clean, and add fresh butter and olive oil. I think that’s a lot of maintenance to keep up with for two pans over a hot flame. I only used one pan and I was a-okay.
Another variation I made from the recipe is that I added a a cooling rack into the mix. Per the recipe instructions, you’re supposed to place the cooked paillard on a baking sheet in the oven at 200F, when the chicken is finished cooking on the skillet. I added a cooling rack on top of the baking sheet in an effort to prevent sogginess on the bottom of the paillard.
Whenever you fry anything– even if it’s just pan frying– it’s a good idea to place those items on top of a cooling rack so that the bottom is ventillated and doesn’t sog up. Like with these homemade donuts or these crab, creamcheese, and scallion wontons.
The Lemon Sauce
The lemon sauce is definitely worth making, too. It adds a nice, contrasting flavor, in a light and non-overpowering way. The NYT cooking recipe calls for 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped. If you do choose to use the parsley make sure that the parsley is chopped very finely, otherwise the sauce will taste good but look really ugly and unappetizing. Then what will be the point, right?
Now go on with your bougie self! 😉
First, let's note that apparently there are two ways to spell scallopini. The way I just spelled it, and the way NYT Cooking spelled in in their recipe: scaloppine.
Now that we got that out of the way with, this chicken is simple, tender, and flavorful. One of those beauties in simplicity. The lemon sauce is lovely, too; it adds a contrasting flavor in a very light way. My only recommendation on the sauce is that if you do add the parsley, make sure it is chopped very finely.
- 1 pound boneless chicken thighs
- black pepper
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, or more as needed
- 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs, or more as needed
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (evoo), or more as needed
- 5 tablespoons butter, or more as needed
- 2 tablespoons evoo or butter, your choice
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup finely chopped, fresh parsley (optional)
Heat the Oven to 200F. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet, and place in the oven. We'll use this when the chicken finishes cooking in the skillet. This setup will allow the chicken to stay hot, and will also prevent sogginess. If you don't have a wire cooling rack that's okay, still place the chicken in the oven on the baking sheet to keep it hot.
Set up your breading station. Place the flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs on their own large plate or in their own shallow bowl.
Use a meat pounder to flatten your chicken thighs to a 1/4 inch thickness. The NYT recipe says to do this between two sheets of plastic wrap; I didn't and it was fine. But as always: You. Do. You. The flattened chicken thigh is called a paillard. If you don't have a meat pounder you can use a heavy skillet or a wine bottle, or anything heavy.
Sprinkle salt and pepper on top of each plate, and on each side of the chicken paillards.
Place a large skillet over medium high heat, and let sit for a couple of minutes to get nice and hot. Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon evoo, and swirl it around. The pan will be ready to use when you can drop a sprinkle of flour into the skillet and it sizzles.
Dredge a piece of chicken in the flour --> egg --> and then breadcrumbs. Place in the hot pan. It's okay to place two pieces of chicken in the pan if you can fit them.
Cook the chicken two minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
When the chicken is golden brown on each side, place it on the wire rack + baking sheet that is in the oven. The chicken paillards will stay in the oven until the lemon sauce is finished.
Use a paper towel to wipe the skillet clean. Put a fresh tablespoon of butter and evoo into the skillet and swirl it around. Dredge a new paillard of chicken in the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, and place in the skillet.
You'll continue this process between each paillard of chicken, until their are none left: using a paper towel to wipe the skillet clean + fresh butter and evoo + dredging the chicken in the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs.
Continue cooking each of the paillards until there are none left, and continue placing each in the oven once finished on the skillet.
After you place the last paillard in the oven, use a paper towel to wipe the skillet clean one last time!
Put 1 tablespoon of butter and evoo, each, in the skillet, plus two teaspoons of flour. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring for 3-4 minutes.
Add the wine. But beware, it'll be a theatrical show when you put it in! The skillet will smoke and steam immediately. So be careful. Stir and scrape the pan until the wine has reduced by half, about 1 minute.
Add the stock and lemon juice, and stir about 3-4 minutes until the sauce has thickened to a syrupy consistency.
Add a final tablespoon of butter. (Oh.My.Gosh.So.Much.Butter. This is all per the NYT recipe.) If you want to skip the last tablespoon of butter, I say go for it. I'm not sure how it will taste, but you know, be a risk taker. Maybe just use 1/2 tablespoon?
This is also where you can add the chopped parsley, if you want to. But if you use it make sure to chop it up really finely. Otherwise it just looks weird and unappetizing in there. That's how I did it. Next time I am foregoing the parsley.
And Tah-dah!! We are all done, finally! Remove the chicken from the oven and spoon the lemon sauce on top. Do the cabbage patch while you enjoy your first bite.
Per Kitchn, a pinot grigio is the most versatile of a dry, white wine to cook with. If you don't have that on hand, a sauvignon blanc and unoaked chardonnay will work, too (whatever unoaked chardonnay means...). These three are your go-to cooking wines. If possible, choose a wine that has as 10-13% alcohol content.