Middle Eastern Chicken Milanese | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

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Middle Eastern Chicken Milanese

Middle Eastern Chicken Milanese

Middle Eastern Chicken Milanese Courtesy of Adeena Sussman

Serves 4

15 min

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This recipe came to me in a fried-food fever dream. In Israel, where I live half the year, schnitzel is an institution that you don’t mess with. The gold standard is just that: golden, crisp and clas-sic, with a breaded exterior that protects a thin piece of protein beneath. It occurred to me that stirring tahini into the egg batter might firm it up, and indeed it does, creating a shell that helps the panko-and-sesame coating almost snap like a thin cracker when broken into. It’s stealthily nutty in a blink-and-your-tastebuds-miss-it kind of way. The accompanying salad, best served right on top of the freshly fried cutlet, makes this a meal on a plate.

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For the salad:
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground 
black pepper, to taste
1 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 cups baby arugula leaves
½ small red onion, thinly sliced

For the schnitzel:
½ cup pure tahini paste, plus more for drizzling
6 tablespoons water
1 egg
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds 
(not toasted)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1 pound thin-cut skinless bone-less chicken breasts (see Note)
Vegetable oil, for frying


Make the salad: In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and zest and oil; season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes, arugula and red onion, toss gently and let the salad sit while you make the schnitzel.
Fry the schnitzel: In a shallow dish, whisk together the tahini, water, egg, kosher salt, cayenne and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. In another shal-low dish, combine the panko, sesame seeds, sea salt, paprika and the remaining ½ teaspoon of pepper. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dip the chicken breasts, one at a time, into the egg mixture and shake off the excess (I find it’s good to use tongs for this; those thin cutlets are slippery suckers). Place a schnitzel on top of the panko mixture and press down, flip, and press again. Repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken. Arrange the coated chicken on the baking sheet and let rest for a few minutes while you heat the oil. 
Fill a large skillet with ½ inch of vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat. Test the oil’s readiness by throwing in a torn shard of white bread; if it begins morphing into a perfectly golden crouton almost immediately, you’re in business. Fry the schnitzels, two at a time, until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes a side. Drain on paper towels. Arrange the schnit-zels on dinner plates, divide the salad on top of the schnitzels and serve.

Note: If you can’t find thin cutlets, use a sharp knife to slice skinless boneless chicken breast horizontally into ¼-inch-thin slices.

Excerpted from Tahini by Adeena Sussman. (Short Stack Editions: 2016)