Weekly Winner:  Crispy, Crunchy Chicken Cutlets — with a great salad

Ramen noodles.  I gotta admit, I love the things. I’ve used them in place of regular pasta for spaghetti-and-meatballs-gone-Asian. I make a mean ramen noodle salad. I love them in soup, and they got me through college as-is with just a bit of cheese sprinkled on top. The one thing I never thought of using them for; however breading. That is until now.

Crispy Ramen-Crusted Chicken with Asian Slaw comes from Southern Living Magazine. Honestly I was a bit skeptical about this since you use the noodles raw. However the chicken turned out amazing. The noodles “cooked” just enough while browning the chicken and the chicken itself stayed amazingly moist. And just in case you’re feeling a little guilty about eating chicken fried in ramen noodles (you shouldn’t be — it’s tasty!) there is a fabulous Asian kale salad that goes with it. The salad, with its honey-soy-lime dressing is the perfect light zesty accompaniment to the rich chicken. This dish, in a word, is a “keeper”. And it gives me a great excuse to stock up on more ramen!

Crispy Ramen-Crusted Chicken with Asian Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 bunch kale (about 8 oz.), stems removed, chopped (about 6 cups)

1 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1/3 cup)

3 green onions, thinly sliced diagonally

1 1/4 cups matchstick carrots

3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon honey

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 (3-oz.) pkg. chicken-flavored instant Asian ramen noodle soup mix

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 (5- to 6-oz.) chicken cutlets

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped

Preparation

1. Toss together kale, cilantro, green onions, and carrots. Whisk together lime juice, soy sauce, honey, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small bowl; pour over kale mixture, and toss to coat. Set aside while preparing chicken, tossing occasionally.

2. Break ramen noodles into pieces. Process ramen noodles, seasoning mixtures from ramen packages, ginger, and cayenne pepper in a food processor until combined, 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a shallow dish, and set aside.

3. Place each chicken cutlet between two sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and flatten to 1/4-inch thickness, using a rolling pin or flat side of a meat mallet. Dip each cutlet in eggs, and dredge in ramen mixture, pressing to adhere.

4. Cook half of chicken in 2 1/2 tablespoons hot olive oil in a large skillet over medium until golden brown and done, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Place on a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet, and keep warm in a 200° oven. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken and olive oil.

5. Sprinkle peanuts over kale mixture, and serve with cutlets.

Weekly Winner: A College Staple Graduates With Honors

IMG_1219.JPGThis weekend marks the start of the college football season — Go Buckeyes!!  As I begin to plan our Saturday game day menus and begin to subtly shift my food focus from summer to fall, I can’t help but reminisce about game days on campus at Ohio State.  It was not gourmet (barbecue potato chips and french onion dip).  It certainly wasn’t healthy (chicken wings, chili dogs and beer) but we certainly wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

While in school, I was admittedly not the gourmet cook.  There were a few things that I made from scratch – spaghetti and meatballs being one of them – but for the most part, I lived on frozen chicken patties, macaroni and cheese ….. and ramen noodles.  Who didn’t eat ramen noodles in college?  They are incredibly cheap, relatively instant, and pretty dang tasty!  Another college staple was Chinese takeout.  Again – quick, cheap and tasty.

So imagine my delight when searching for a Friday night pasta dinner recipe that would celebrate the start of College Football season.  What’s this?  Ramen Noodles and Meatballs?  Sounds promising.  What absolutely sealed the deal for me was that these meatballs are made out of pork and have a definite Asian flair.  I certainly was not disappointed.  If you like spaghetti and meatballs, and you like pot stickers — and you are not afraid of combining the two — try this recipe!  I believe it comes from Cuisine at Home.  It’s a college flash back all gussied up and ready for the real world.

Ramen Noodles & Meatballs

Ingredients: 

For the Meatballs:

1 egg

½ cup panko bread crumbs

2 scallions, trimmed and minced

2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp mirin

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp sugar

1 lb ground pork

2 ice cubes

For the Sauce:

2 Tbsp sesame oil

1 bunch scallion whites, trimmed and minced

2 Tbsp each grated fresh garlic and ginger

2 cans diced tomatoes, drained (14.5 oz each)

2 cups low-sodium beef stock

¼ cup soy sauce

1 Tbsp mirin

2 tsp chili garlic sauce

3 pkg dry ramen noodles, seasoning packets discarded (3 oz each)

Sliced scallion greens

Procedure:

For the meatballs, combine egg, panko, 2 scallions, minced ginger, soy sauce, mirin, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer; add pork and ice.

Cover bowl of mixer with plastic wrap and beat pork mixture with the paddle attachment on medium speed until mixture starts coming together and looks pasty, 1 minute. Discard ice cubes. Scoop meatballs with a #30 scoop (2 Tbsp) onto a baking sheet. Chill while preparing ingredients for the sauce.

For the sauce, sear the meatballs in oil in a large sauté pan over high heat until brown on both sides, 5-6 minutes; transfer to a plate. Reduce heat to medium. Add scallion whites, garlic and grated ginger and cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, beef stock, soy sauce, mirin and chili garlic sauce. Add meatballs and any residual juices on plate; simmer, covered, until meatballs are cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a serving dish, cover to keep warm.

Cook ramen noodles as directed (about 3 minutes in boiling water), drain. Toss ramen noodles with sauce and serve with meatballs. Garnish with sliced scallion greens.