Each bite of Chicken Escalope, for me, is a delightful journey back to a cherished time and place—my joyous weekend escapades at the American Club in Khartoum, Sudan. This dish, simple and comforting, is imbued with nostalgia that transports me back to those carefree days of my youth.
As a child, the American Club was more than just a place—it was a vibrant hub of shared experiences, laughter, and enduring friendships. Nestled in the heart of Khartoum, it was our sanctuary, where my family and friends congregated every weekend to escape the routine. The club’s verdant expanses offered the perfect setting for youthful adventures, where we would swim, play, and revel in the freedom of the weekend.
In between these frolics, one thing we eagerly awaited was lunchtime, the pièce de résistance of our weekend. The Chicken Escalope from the club’s kitchen served with a side of golden, crispy fries, was a culinary highlight that added flavour to our sweet memories.
Today, as I recreate this beloved dish in my own kitchen, the aroma of the toasting panko breadcrumbs and the sizzling chicken wafts through the air, intermingling with the scent of fresh Parmesan, and I am instantly transported back to the American Club.
My version of Chicken Escalope includes tender chicken breasts, coated in finely toasted panko breadcrumbs and freshly grated Parmesan, pan-fried to a crisp, golden perfection. It is simple yet utterly delicious, reminiscent of the unfussy, honest food served at the club.
To accompany this, I love to serve a fresh rocket (arugula) salad, dressed in a simple yet zesty vinaigrette made of extra-virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice, seasoned with ground pink salt and fresh ground pepper. The peppery arugula cuts through the richness of the escalope, adding a delightful balance of flavours.
Recreating this dish is my humble attempt to relive those precious childhood moments, and to share a piece of my history with my family. Every time I serve Chicken Escalope, it is more than just a meal—it is a cherished memory, a part of my past, a fragment of my heart served on a plate.
Basic Ingredients for Chicken Escalope
Chicken Breasts: This is the star ingredient of the dish. Chicken breasts are lean, high in protein, and have a mild flavour that serves as a perfect canvas for the other ingredients. The chicken is pounded thin for this dish, which allows it to cook quickly and evenly.
Fine Panko Breadcrumbs: These breadcrumbs are Japanese-style and are lighter, crispier, and airier than traditional breadcrumbs. When toasted, they provide a delightful crunch to the chicken escalope, contrasting beautifully with the tender chicken.
Fresh Parmesan: Parmesan adds a savoury, umami flavour to the breadcrumb coating, enhancing the overall taste of the escalope. It also helps to form a beautiful golden crust when the chicken is fried.
Flour: This is used to dredge the chicken before it’s dipped in egg and coated in the breadcrumb mixture. It helps the egg adhere to the chicken, ensuring that the breadcrumbs stick for a uniform, crispy coating.
Egg: Beaten egg acts as a binder, helping the breadcrumbs stick to the flour-dredged chicken.
Arugula: Also known as rocket, arugula has a distinct, peppery flavour that pairs well with the chicken. Its fresh and slightly bitter notes contrast and balance the richness of the escalope.
Lemon Wedges: These are served alongside the escalope, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the fried chicken brightens the dish and cuts through the richness, adding a zesty freshness.
For the Dressing
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: This forms the base of the dressing. Olive oil is a heart-healthy fat that adds a rich, fruity flavour to the salad.
Lemon Juice: The acid in the lemon juice helps to balance the oil and adds a vibrant citrus note to the salad. It also complements the lemon served with the escalope.
Ground Pink Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper: These are used to season the salad, enhancing the natural flavours of the arugula and the dressing.
- Flattening Chicken: When flattening the chicken breasts, place them between two pieces of plastic wrap or in a zip-top bag to avoid splatter and ensure a clean process.
- Breading: Make sure to press the breadcrumb mixture firmly onto the chicken to ensure it sticks well and creates a uniform crust.
- Frying: Don’t overcrowd the pan while frying the chicken escalopes. Overcrowding can lower the oil temperature and lead to less crispy escalopes.
Serving Tips for Chicken Escalope
- Presentation: Serve the chicken escalopes hot, with a side of fresh arugula salad. The contrast between hot, crispy chicken and cool, fresh salad is delightful.
- Lemon: Encourage guests to squeeze the provided lemon wedge over the escalope just before eating to enhance the dish’s brightness and freshness.
Refrigeration: If you have leftovers, you can store the escalopes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Reheating: Reheat the escalopes in the oven or in a pan over medium heat to maintain their crispiness. Microwaving is not recommended as it can make the breadcrumb coating soggy.
Freezing: You can freeze raw, breaded escalopes for up to 3 months. Fry them straight from the freezer, adding a couple of extra minutes to the cooking time.
- 500 g chicken breasts
- ½ cup fine panko breadcrumbs, toasted
- ¼ cup fresh parmesan, grated
- 1 cup flour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 cups arugula leaves, fresh
- lemon wedges, to serve
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- pink salt, ground
- fresh pepper, ground
- Prepare the Chicken: Place each chicken breast between two pieces of cling film. Using a rolling pin, gently pound the chicken until it's about 1⁄4 inch thick.
- Prepare the Breading: In a bowl, combine the toasted panko breadcrumbs with the freshly grated parmesan.
- Coat the Chicken: Dip each piece of chicken first in the flour, shaking off the excess, then in the beaten eggs, and finally in the breadcrumb-parmesan mixture. Ensure each piece is thoroughly coated.
- Cook the Chicken: Heat a bit of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer the fried chicken pieces onto a plate lined with kitchen paper. This will absorb any extra oil.
- Prepare the Salad Dressing: While the chicken is cooking, prepare the salad dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, pink salt, and fresh ground pepper.
- Serve: Transfer the cooked chicken to a serving plate. Arrange fresh arugula beside it. Drizzle the dressing over the arugula and serve with lemon wedges on the side.