Chicken Milanese with fennel salad
This past week was a frenzied whirlwind which some might call a vacation. Technically, it was. My husband took time off from work, we kept the kids out of school, and ventured down to Florida for a family celebration. We couldn’t have asked for better traveling days, and that is really saying something considering we have a 5, almost 4, and 2 year old. That is a lot of kids. Like, you’re-outnumbered-as-parents lot of kids. But you know what? They held their own. There were no epic meltdowns in the airport, as I had expected. No bathroom mishaps, no lost luggage. It was a total win. Reflecting on the week, however, I wish I had relaxed a little more. I get so hung up on whether my children are behaving “well enough” for their age that I often miss out on the subtle nuances of their personalities shining through. And I know some day I will regret not being more present.
For instance, my oldest son is hysterical. I’m not sure what is going on in that little head of his, but it must be a riot. To him, everything is an adventure. The world is full of endless possibilities, and he wants to see it all and do it all, but not without cracking a joke or singing a song.
I have to admit… walking around Disney while your children run to the next attraction singing ‘No Diggity’ is something I will not soon forget. Ethan is pure joy. Even when he’s misbehaving, it comes from a love of making people laugh and smile. I shouldn’t try to take that away from him.
My daughter, Nora, is the epitome of independence. “I can do it by myself,” is her default greeting instead of, “hello.” And when she can’t do whatever it is that she’s attempting to do, trust me you will know. There will be a diva scene to end all scenes until she figures it out. But that’s not necessarily a bad quality. She’s motivated and can hold her own — I should praise those qualities, especially in a daughter! There was one instance this past week when Nora’s aunt asked her to take a picture with her grandmother.
“No.” End of story. Moving on. Don’t ask me again.
At first I was annoyed by her tone, but after thinking about it my attitude changed quickly. I was floored, blown away even. In the best possible way. This girl is not going to be bullied. I won’t have to worry quite so much about whether she will be taken advantage of. She’s in charge of herself, and I am only partially to thank for that.
And then there’s my baby, Colin. I suppose he hasn’t been a baby for quite some time now. He spent the weekend clinging to me, crying when I walked away, and needing more attention than I can recall in a lifetime. I wanted him to let me have an adult conversation. I wanted to be able to relax because again, it’s a vacation! But as all moms know, family getaways rarely result in restorative down time. And you know what? Now that he’s back in school — I can’t believe I’m saying this — I miss the extra cuddles.
What can I say? The grass is always greener.
But we’re back. My to-do list hasn’t been this long in months and how is it Thanksgiving next week?! Please tell me I’m not the only one drowning in holiday prep. Once again, I have yet to think about our menu (only that we need a little more wine…). So until we make it through next week, we’re going to have to survive on quick, simple meals. Luckily, I have this one on repeat.
Chicken Milanese is nothing new — pan-fried chicken cutlets, seasoned with breadcrumbs or panko and parmesan cheese, usually served with a light green salad atop. But in an attempt to elevate this classic dish I threw fennel on top. Game changer.
Fennel is essentially the vegetable version of licorice, which I abhor. I find the flavor overpowering. To prevent this, I soaked thin slices of fennel in ice water while I prepped the rest of the dish — for a total of maybe 15 minutes? — and the end result was perfection. I hope you love this as much I do.
I may have six loads of laundry to catch up on, but at least dinner is served.
Chicken Milanese with fennel salad
- 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, fronds reserved
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6 chicken cutlets
- olive oil
- 3 cups mixed salad greens
Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut off the stems and fronds off the fennel (reserve the greens!) and remove any bruised outer layers. Cut the fennel bulb in half lengthwise and cut out the tough part of the core. Thinly slice fennel (mandoline is great, but I use a knife) and place in ice water while you prep the remaining ingredients.
In a small, shallow container or bowl, combine all-purpose flour with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Whisk eggs in a medium bowl to combine. Combine panko, parmesan cheese, sage, and 1 tablespoon salt in a separate dish.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Dredge each cutlet in flour on both sides. Move chicken to the eggs, turning to coat on, then shake off any excess. Move cutlets to panko mixture and coat completely. When oil is hot, transfer chicken and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, until golden brown, but not burned. Flip and cook another 3 minutes.
Move pan to the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked through. Chicken is safe to eat at 165 F, but you can remove it from the oven when it’s reached 150 or 155 F — it will continue to cook while it rests. (If you’re making a larger portion, move chicken cutlets directly from the skillet to a baking sheet with a cooling rack on top. The chicken will stay crisp as long as it’s not directly on the baking sheet).
While chicken is resting, toss salad greens with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium bowl to coat; season with salt and pepper.
Drain the fennel and pat dry on a paper towel to remove any excess water. Toss with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and toss to coat.
Season chicken with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, then sprinkle each cutlet with a pinch of malden sea salt. Mound salad atop chicken, then top with plenty of sliced fennel. Garnish with reserved fennel fronds.