In the current edition of New Orleans Magazine, Dale Curry writes about “Daily Devotion[s],” those local classics that make their way onto restaurant chalk boards and family dinner tables week after week. I giggled as I read through her list, because five out of the seven dishes she mentioned were constants with my family. Like many New Orleanians, we always started the week with Red Beans and Rice usually had Meatballs and Spaghetti (or some other red gravy-based dish) on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, paneed something or other after that, seafood on Fridays and pot roasts on Sundays. I carry out many of those same food traditions today. Coincidentally, though, I just reacquainted my children with “paneed” foods. As crazy as it sounds, they wouldn’t eat paneed anything when they were younger.
Paneed (pronounced “pon-aid” — there’s actually an accent on the first “e” that I left off because it doesn’t agree with my posting format) is a New Orleans term for any thin cut of meat or fish coated in bread crumbs and pan-fried. For some reason, though, we didn’t use that term much in our house. My mom typically referred to those types of foods as “breaded,” as in Breaded Pork Chops, or as cutlets, like Veal Cutlets. Those were the two most-paneed-proteins we ate. These days, one of my “daily devotions” if you will is Paneed Chicken–I use the term with regional pride. It’s currently the number one requested meal in my house and one that I’m happy to repeat often. The process is foolproof so long as you use thin cuts of meat or fish (so they’ll be cooked through in the short amount of time it takes for the breading to crisp up), fill the frying pan with only enough oil to come up the sides of whatever you’re cooking (this is not deep frying), get the oil hot enough to quickly seal the outside (somewhere around 300 to 320 degrees for chicken) and don’t overcrowd the pan.
Do you have any weekly dinner devotions that you’ve carried over from your childhood? If so, I’d love to hear all about them.
Paneed Chicken Recipe
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup panko
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Zest of half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil or canola oil, for pan-frying
Place chicken between two sheets of waxed paper. With the flat side of a meat mallet, pound each breast about 1/4-inch thick; cut large pieces in half. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper; set aside. In a large skillet, heat about 1/4-inch of oil to 300 to 320 degrees (you may need to adjust temperature during cooking process to avoid burning). Meanwhile, combine flour and Creole seasoning in a large shallow dish. In a separate dish, combine beaten egg and milk; season to taste with salt and pepper. In a third dish, combine bread crumbs, panko, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. Working in batches, dredge chicken in seasoned flour, dip in egg wash then coat thoroughly with bread crumb mixture. Shake off excess crumbs and gently lower chicken into hot oil. Fry until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately. Serves 4-6.