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Crispy Chicken With Crater Lake Blue Cheese And Spinach

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Crater Lake Blue Cheese is made by Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon, a creamery that has been around since the 1930s. The creamery got new life in the 1990s when partners Cary Bryant and David Gremmels bought it from the venerable cheesemaker, Ig Vella, who remains a contributing partner. Rogue Creamery blue cheeses are unquestionably among this nation’s best, and the Crater Lake Blue, robust yet perfectly balanced, is a great cooking or stand-alone cheese. Paired with chicken and spinach as it is in this dish, the cheese struts its stuff beautifully while not overpowering any of the other elements. Panko, or Japanese bread crumbs, can be found in Asian markets and in most supermarkets. I like them because they’re especially crunchy. If you cannot find them, substitute coarse, toasted bread crumbs.

Serves4

Cooking Methodbaking, sauteeing

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturebuttery, cheesy, crisp, meaty, savory, sweet

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup apple juice (or use water)
  • ½ cup currants
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, sliced paper thin crosswise
  • 1 pound spinach, washed, and patted dry (let a little water cling to the leaves)
  • 2¾ teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup Japanese panko (or use corn flake crumbs)
  • ¼ cup finely grated American Parmesan, Asiago, or Dry Jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds) pounded slightly to a ½-inch thickness
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces Crater Lake Blue cheese, crumbled and divided (or use Original Blue or other tangy and creamy blue cheese)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  2. In a small saucepan, heat the apple juice until almost boiling. Place the currants in a small heat-proof bowl. Pour the apple juice over them. Let sit for 20 minutes, then drain. Set aside.

  3. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat.

  4. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the spinach and cover. Cook for 3 minutes, or just until the leaves begin to turn a vibrant shade of green but are not quite cooked through. Uncover and turn off heat.

  5. (The spinach will continue to cook after the heat has been turned off.) Add ¾ teaspoon of the salt, red pepper flakes, and half of the currants. Toss gently (tongs work well), and set aside.

  6. To prepare the chicken: Mix together the panko, Parmesan cheese, remaining 2 teaspoons of the salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Transfer the mixture to a flat plate. Put the beaten eggs in a shallow bowl. Have a large plate ready. Dip the chicken breasts into the eggs and then coat with the bread crumb mixture. Put them on the plate.

  7. Line a large baking sheet with paper towels.

  8. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil and butter together over medium-high heat, until the butter begins to bubble. Sauté the chicken breasts for 5 minutes on one side, or until the undersides are crispy and brown. Turn and cook 4 to 5 minutes more, or until the other side is also crispy and brown and the chicken is cooked through. Transfer to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Remove the paper towels and discard.

  9. Sprinkle two-thirds of the blue cheese on top of the chicken. Bake for 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

  10. Warm the spinach on medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Distribute the spinach among 4 dinner plates. Sprinkle with remaining blue cheese. Place the chicken on top of the spinach, sprinkle with remaining currants, and serve right away.

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