Often forgotten after the fall baking rush, pears are actually available all winter long and have appeal for use in both sweet and savory dishes. And since I’ve overloaded you with Valentine’s sweets all week (dairy-free cheesecake stuffed strawberries, raw chocolate superfood tart, coconut ginger popcorn truffles and chocolate-covered strawberry macaroons – to name a few!), I thought that you could perhaps still use an impressive main meal to share with a loved one. That said, this flavorful crispy chicken cutlets recipe is a simple star from Ellie Krieger’s 30 Minutes of Less book to be enjoyed for family weeknight dinners, too!
Krieger notes that pairing the unique sweetness of healthy, fresh pears with savory proteins like pork or chicken makes for a satisfying supper that can be made in a snap. But let’s be realistic here. Unless you have the lightning fast speed of a chef, I highly doubt this crispy chicken cutlets meal will come together for you in 30 minutes or less – I know it wouldn’t for me. The cook times along add up to 25 minutes – the leaves you 5 minutes for pounding out the chicken, seasoning and coating, chopping the pears and herbs, slicing the shallots and garlic, juicing the lemon, and measuring all of your ingredients… whew, I’d be exhausted trying to get that in under the clock! I’d allow for 45 minutes, including prep time, and be proud of yourself if you hit the table in 40 minutes or less.
And as for the pears used to brighten these crispy chicken cutlets, I’d look for bosc or anjou during the winter months. According to USA Pears, you can judge ripeness to find sweet and juicy pears by checking the neck:
- Press the neck, or stem end, of the pear with your thumb, and if it yields to gentle pressure it is ripe and ready to eat.
- To ripen your pears at home, keep them at room temperature. To slow ripening, simply put the pears in the refrigerator.
Special Diet Notes: Crispy Chicken Cutlets with Pear Sauce
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, and optionally soy-free. Just be sure to use a buttery spread that suits your dietary needs, or use all olive oil – the dish will still be delicious.
For gluten-free crispy chicken cutlets, simply use your favorite gluten-free flour in place of the all-purpose. We often use brown rice flour for a dish like this – no fancy blend required.
Please note that Ellie Krieger’s book, Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less, is not a dairy-free book by any means. It just happens to have some good recipes that are naturally dairy-free or easily adaptable, like these crispy chicken cutlets.
- 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour (see option in post above for gluten-free)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons dairy-free buttery spread / non-hydrogenated margarine, divided
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 large pears, peeled, cored and cut in ½-inch dice
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¾ cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme (about 4 sprigs)
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1-1/4 pounds fresh spinach, trimmed, washed and dried
- Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using a mallet, pound breasts to ¼-inch thickness. Season both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper and coat with the flour.
- Place 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and margarine in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the margarine begins to foam, add two chicken breasts and sauté one side until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the chicken breasts over and sauté the other side until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate, raise heat to medium high and repeat with another tablespoon each of olive oil and margarine and other 2 chicken breasts.
- Add the shallots and pears to the pan and cook over medium-high heat until lightly translucent and golden, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice, mustard, chicken stock and any juices on the plate and deglaze the pan, scraping to loosen any brown bits on bottom with wooden spoon. Simmer until the sauce reduces by half, about 4 minutes. Add chopped thyme and parsley, and gradually stir in the remaining margarine until just melted.
- For the spinach, add the remaining olive oil and sliced garlic to a large sauté pan. Warm oil over high heat. When very hot, and before garlic has color, add the spinach and cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes or until spinach is bright green and slightly wilted. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- To serve, divide spinach between four plates, placing a mound on each. Top spinach with cutlet and spoon shallot and pear sauce over top.