Thursday, June 9, 2011

Spicy Cool Chicken Dinner

The weather turned late-summer hot suddenly here in Northeast Ohio and the heat makes cooking dinner a little more of a challenge than normal.  Not wanting to turn on the oven or boil pots of water on the stove for pastas, I tend to turn to cooler, no cook, or nearly no cook, meals when the kitchen is just too stifling to spend much time there.

Generally when it's this warm outside we have garden bounty to turn to for dinners - simple tomato salads, fresh corn easily cooked in the microwave - but in early June none of that is available yet.  So trying to keep kitchen time to a minimum, this simple spicy, pan fried chicken cutlet topped with a cool cucumber salad combined for a perfect combination of flavors for a hot evening. 

If you have a gas grill or small charcoal grill and feel like doing this outside, it would be a fine alternative to pan frying the chicken.  But preparing this inside in a pan made the total preparation time right around 10 minutes and I cannot think of anything that would get us out of the kitchen faster than that.  Better yet, this meal clocks in at less than 350 calories (by my non-scientific reckoning) and so is also very healthy - even using the full fat sour cream.  This could easily be the ideal go-to meal for all summer.

SIMPLE CHICKEN CUTLET WITH COOL CUCUMBER SALAD

Chicken
   1 4-ounce chicken cutlet
   salt and pepper to taste
   1/4 teaspoon southwest seasoning mix
   drizzle of lemon juice
   1 teaspoon canola oil

Salad
   4-inch piece of English cucumber, diced
   2 tablespoons sour cream (I used full fat but feel free to try low-fat)
   salt and pepper to taste
   1/2 teaspoon dill (fresh would be great, but dried is fine)

Begin by combining the sour cream, salt, pepper and dill together in a small bowl.  Add the diced cucumber and combine.  Let set while preparing the chicken.

Heat a heavy small saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add canola oil and heat.  Season the chicken cutlet with salt, pepper and spice blend on both sides.  Add to the pan, cook 2-3 minutes per side until cooked through and browned on both sides.  Drizzle with lemon juice when turning the chicken in the pan.

Remove from the pan, let set for 2-3 minutes then slice and plate.  Top with some of the cucumber salad and serve the remainder of the salad on the side. 

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