Chicken Cutlets Grilled in Charmoula with Quick-Cured Lemon Confit

By • July 8, 2011 29 Comments

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Author Notes: Friday night dinner is the time my family and I gather together, share the news of the busy week behind us, and regroup. I spend most Fridays preparing this special meal. When summer heat arrives, though, the thought of cranking up the oven and heating the house makes me want to sit on the balcony with an iced coffee and while the day away. Cutlets to the rescue: they are quick and easy. This recipe originated when a craving for Moroccan flavors hit, but I was without home-cured lemons. The charmoula is based on Paula Wolfert's recipe in Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco, but has sort of wandered off in its own direction.creamtea

Food52 Review: The confit is the star of the dish and really helps to make a basic herb chicken cutlet special. The confit takes a little time to make so you need to plan ahead, but it's worth it in the end. The lemons become soft to the bite and are perfumed with cinnamon and bay leaves. We think the confit would pair nicely with so many dishes that we're keeping some on hand to perk things up every now and then. The Editors

Serves 4-6

For the confit

  • 4 very small organic lemons
  • 2 tablespoons fine sea salt, plus an extra tablespoon for soaking
  • 1-2 small pieces broken cinnamon stick, each about 1/4" x 1"
  • 2 fresh bay leaves, twisted in several places along the central vein to release flavor
  • 4 whole peppercorns, slightly cracked in a mortar and pestle
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  1. In a medium bowl, combine lemons, lukewarm water to cover and about 1 tablespoon salt. Soak for about one-half hour to soften skin.
  2. Remove lemons from salt water, trim the pointy ends off, and cut lengthwise in half. With cut side down on cutting board, slice as thinly as possible with a very sharp knife and place in a bowl.
  3. Sprinkle lemon slices with 2 tablespoons of salt and add cinnamon, cracked pepper and bay leaves. Allow to marinate for 3-4 hours to draw out juices and season them.
  4. Transfer lemon slices to a colander, reserving the herb and spices, and rinse to remove excess salt. Pat with paper towels.
  5. In a small nonstick saute pan, add olive oil and warm over low heat. Add lemons with care (they may spurt oil if the pan is too hot). Saute lightly until soft.
  6. Add about two glugs (1/4 -1/3 cup) water to hot pan, raise heat to medium, and simmer away most of the water until the lemons are still moist but not dry. They should be translucent and quite tender (add additional water as necessary). Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

For the charmoula and chicken

  • 1 1/4 cups minced Italian parsley and cilantro, about half of each
  • 2 scallions, sliced, including some light green
  • 1//4 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • pinch or two of cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • zest from one small lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 boneless and skinless chicken cutlets, about 3-1/4 lb.
  1. place herbs, salt, spices, vinegar and zest in the container of a spice grinder or better, small food processor and whiz to mince finely. Add olive oil in a stream until emulsified.
  2. Set aside charmoula while you prepare the chicken cutlets.
  3. Rinse the cutlets, remove the under-flap, reserving it for another use , and pat dry with a paper towel. Pound cutlets to even thickness-about 1/2 ", between sheets of parchment.
  4. Smear the charmoula over the chicken cutlets.
  5. Set a ridged grill pan on medium to medium high heat and heat. Rub with a little olive oil.
  6. When the pan is hot, place the cutlets, cut side down, and cook, about 8 minutes. Monitor their progress, adjusting the heat up or down, so that they don't dry out. Flip cutlets and cook about another 8 or so minutes until cooked through but still juicy, remove from heat and keep warm on a serving plate.
  7. May be grilled on an oiled grate 5-6" from glowing coals until cooked through and juices run clear, flipping halfway through.
  8. Serve the cutlets garnished with lemon confit, with rice as an accompaniment.

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