If you want to make people of all ages happy at Hanukkah, this panfried entree, cooked quickly in good olive oil, is the way to go. The grated potato that tops the chicken in this dish is missing a few ingredients (matzo meal, grated onion, potato starch, schmalz and egg) so it certainly is not a traditional latke. But the potato doesn’t need fillers when the real goal is to create a lacy and crisp pancake that perfectly complements the slender breast upon which it rests. Instead of serving this dish with applesauce, I like to serve it with a lemon butter sauce and a simple green salad strewn with toasted almonds and thinly sliced crisp apples.
Butterflying the seasoned chicken breasts and trimming away excess fat is the secret to this dish. Each of your raw trimmed chicken fillets should weigh approximately 2 ounces and measure about 4 inches in length and 3 inches in width. The grated potato should provide a protective nest that is at least as long and slightly wider than the fillet. For best results, preheat your cast iron pans (To serve four people at the same time, you will need two 9 inch cast iron pans). Add olive oil to the hot pans and wait a moment or two till the oil shimmers. Then add grated potatoes. Russets, by the way are high in starch content and really are the best choice for this dish.
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- 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and trimmed so that each butterflied portion is about 4 inches in length and 3 inches in width
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 Russet Potatoes
- Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.
- Dredge one side of chicken in flour and shake off excess.
- Heat a 9 inch cast iron skillet over high heat. Add 1/4 cup oil to pan. When oil shimmers, add two nests of coarsely grated potato (about 1/4 cup of potato per nest). Spread nests so that they are about 5 inches in length and four inches in width.
- Turn heat down to medium and add seasoned breasts to potato nests, flour side up. Cook undisturbed until potatoes are brown all over (about 2-3 minutes). Carefully slide a fish spatula under the crisp potato nest and flip chicken potato combo over. Allow chicken to cook for two minutes at medium heat. Season crispy potato top while chicken is cooking.
- Remove and transfer to platter.
- Turn up heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and repeat the cooking process and flipping technique and add finished fillets to the platter.
- Pour out some of the oil from the pan. Then return to heat and add lemon juice and stock. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan. Reduce liquid until there is about 1/3 cup of liquid left. Add 4 tablespoons butter and whisk vigorously. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of sauce on to plates. Place chicken fillets on top of sauce and garnish with chopped parsley.
- To butterfly the breast, put the chicken on a chopping board and, with your hand flat on top of it, use a sharp knife to slice into one side of the breast, starting at the thicker end and ending at the thin point. When you open the sliced breast, it should resemble a butterfly.
- Grate the potatoes by hand (on the coarse side of a box grater) just before you are ready to cook the dish as they will oxidize quickly and turn grey and then brown.
- This dish comes together even more quickly if you use two cast iron pans. Then all four chicken fillets finish cooking at about the same time.
- The trimmed fillets are small and this panfried treat is addictive, so you may need to make extras!