A long time ago, in the era of my life labeled BC (before children), frequent dinner parties were a regular occurrence. With a small group of friends, all similarly unencumbered by offspring, my husband and I would regularly delve into the culinary art, with the emphasis on the word art.
Multi-course meals were de rigueur. Everything was made from scratch. And, dishes with fancy names were clearly preferable to simple, homey concoctions, the so-called comfort foods that subsequently became all the rage.
Yes, Virginia, Frenchification did occur, and on a regular basis, I might add.
I can’t remember exactly when my husband concocted Poulet Savant; it may have been when I first started collecting the funky old recipe booklets that various brands put out to promote their products — from Spry shortening to Baker’s chocolate to Wise potato chips — beginning in the early years of the previous century.
But, I can attest to the fact that his creation — unveiled to a small group of friends gathered in our garnet-colored dining room on a Saturday evening long ago — results in one of the crispiestand most savory “breaded” chicken cutlets I have ever eaten.
The secret ingredient is hinted at, or rather punned, in the dish’s name, Poulet Savant or Wise Chicken; failing that, however, I defy anyone to realize exactly what the breading is made from…crushed potato chips.
Now, this certainly isn’t the most calorie-conscious dish on the face of the earth. It’s also not a nutritional powerhouse, by any means, but it is toothsome, and — served with wedges of lemon, and a mound of creamy mashed potatoes or linguine in garlic and oil on the side — makes for an easy, surprisingly elegant main dish that is likely both to wow and to mystify company. Yet, it also falls neatly into the category of comfort food.
Comfort food with a French name – now that’s something to write home, or at least a column, about.
1 lb. chicken cutlets, thinly sliced
1-2 extra large eggs (depending on how many cutlets you have)
4 cups potato chips
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Olive oil, for frying
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Sprigs of parsley, for garnish
Slices of avocado, for garnish
Crush the potato chips, in a food processor or blender. Put on a plate.
Beat egg well, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Dip chicken cutlets in egg, then coat with potato chip crumbs. Set aside on a plate.
When all cutlets have been coated with crumbs (crush more if necessary), heat oil till very hot in a large frying pan.
Add cutlets to hot oil, carefully, to avoid splattering. Cook in more than one batch if necessary, turning after 2-3 minutes, when golden, and continuing to cook till golden on the second side. Put finished cutlets on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. When all cutlets have been fried and drained, serve on a platter, garnished with lemon, parsley and avocado.
Note: If cutlets are on the thick side, they may not be fully cooked inside. In that case, place on a baking sheet in a hot oven for five to 10 minutes, checking for doneness, and to make sure that the outside is not burning. Drain again if necessary.