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Za’atar Chicken Cutlets and Lemon-Parsley Salad
Our search for ways to spice up weeknight chicken took us to the Middle East where za’atar is a popular seasoning blend that often includes sesame seeds, sumac, thyme, oregano, marjoram and salt. We were influenced by Ana Sortun, who often uses za’atar at her Oleana restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She calls za’atar “craveable” and jokes, “I can imagine it as the next Doritos flavor.” Her recipe for crispy lemon chicken with za’atar calls for making a lemon confit and stuffing it under the skin of whole halves of deboned chicken along with cubes of butter. We took a simpler tack and coated chicken cutlets in a flour-za’atar mixture. We also used lemon zest and juice in our sauce along with tart and smoky Aleppo pepper, which has a fruity, moderate heat. If you can’t find Aleppo pepper, sweet paprika is a decent substitute, but add a pinch of cayenne for a touch of heat.
pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (4 cutlets), pounded to ¼-inch thickness
01Season the chicken all over with 1½ teaspoons of salt. In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup of the za’atar, the flour and pepper; pour into a wide, shallow dish. In a 12-inch stainless-steel skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. One cutlet at a time, transfer the chicken to the za'atar mixture, coating and pressing all sides. Add the cutlets to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes per side, or until well browned. Transfer to a platter.
This was delicious. I used Milk Street's za'atar blend and it was very flavourful. My guess is that if other find it bland, it may be a problem with the spice blend (either not fresh enough, or not a great mix). I did think the parsley amount looked like a typo, so I just used a whole bunch, and adjusted for that. I didn't use the full amount of pomegranate molasses and it was more than enough. Next time, I will also add a side of rice. Definitely will make again.
The chicken by itself was bland. It shouldn't have been given the ingredients. Curiously small amount of parsley salad, certainly not enough for four servings. Luckily we had another bright tasting green salad at the table to compensate.