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By Dana Jacobi
When I was a child, my grandmother's landlord was French and, to top it off, a chef. On Sundays, his day off, Chef LaGrange always made coq au vin. This was before Julia Child taught us authentic French cooking, and the aroma drifting upstairs was like nothing I had ever known. The fragrance of that dish was what started my life-long passion for enticing chicken dishes.
During college, while living near New York City's Hungarian neighborhood, a clerk at a store that could have been in Budapest gave me her recipes for creamy chicken paprikash and a pungent goulash. Then my mother shared a recipe she found for Chicken Marengo. Made with garlic, tomatoes and white wine, in the late 1960s, it seriously impressed the men I dated.
Next came the era of the wok, when everyone learned to stir-fry. My specialty was tossing together colorful combinations of chicken, crisp vegetables, and fresh pineapple that I seasoned with ginger, garlic and soy sauce.
Northern Italian food then became the fashion, with restaurants featuring chicken picatta. What could be easier to make; just saute chicken cutlets, deglaze with chicken broth and lemon juice, and garnish with capers.
But my chicken overcooked in the thin parts while remaining pink where it was thick. Cookbooks explained that pounding the chicken to an even thickness would prevent this.
If, like me, you have resisted pounding chicken cutlets, trust me, it is worth the effort. Besides helping the chicken cook evenly, pounding tenderizes it. This helps cutlets come out as delicate in this Citrus Chicken, my version of picatta, as they are when served in the most exclusive restaurants. If you do not have a mallet or the round and short-handled metal implement called a meat pounder, using a small heavy frying pan works nicely.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional Info Per Serving:
7 g. total fat (3 g. saturated fat),
5 g. carbohydrate,
28 g. protein,
less than 1 g. dietary fiber,
194 mg. sodium
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