Why make freezer nuggs when you can make lemon-Parm cutlets?

I don’t know when they started making ovens with “chicken nuggets” buttons, meant to automatically preheat to the perfect temp for freezer-aisle nuggs, but it does get at one of the truths of weeknight cooking, doesn’t it? That is: Many of us, especially those with kids, tend to reach for the frozen, breaded protein niblet (sometimes shaped like a dinosaur) on certain weeknights when energy and inspiration are low. I’m not saying you have to stop doing that, but you might give this recipe a try. It’s lemony, salty and crispy. It pleases kids and doesn’t take long to whip up. And, there’s a salad involved, so you can feel like a grown-up.

Lemon-Parm chicken cutlets with romaine salad

(Serves 4)


For cutlets:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (roughly 1 1/2 pounds)\

1/2 cup cornstarch

3 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cup panko

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

zest of one lemon

6-8 tablespoons olive oil for frying

lemon slices to garnish

For the salad:

3-4 cups chopped romaine

Juice of half a lemon

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons olive oil

generous pinch sea salt


Parmesan to garnish

Method: With a sharp knife, slice the chicken breasts lengthwise to make four to six tenders. One at a time, place them between two pieces of parchment paper and pound into cutlets about 1/4 inch thick. Salt and pepper them generously. Set up a cutlet-breading assembly line with three shallow bowls. In the first, put cornstarch; in the next, put the beaten egg; and in the last, stir together panko, Parmesan and lemon zest. Dredge each cutlet in cornstarch, saturate it well in the egg and then roll it in the panko mixture until well coated, and set it on a plate. Cover the bottom of a cast-iron skillet with the olive oil and warm on medium heat until a small drop of beaten egg immediately begins to fry when dropped on the skillet. Add the cutlets in batches and fry, 3-4 minutes per side, and move them to a paper towel, squeezing additional lemon over them. Meanwhile, in the bottom of a small salad bowl, whisk lemon, Dijon, oil, a generous pinch of salt and a few cracks of pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Toss with romaine. Slice the cutlets and serve with salad. Garnish with additional Parmesan and lemon wedges.