This recipe is adapted from Simon Hopkinson's The Prawn Cocktail Years. Using responsibly reared, good-quality chicken is a must for this (or any) recipe. Make sure your breadcrumbs aren't too fine; a little texture is what you're after.
- 225 gm unsalted butter, softened
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup each of finely chopped curly parsley, French tarragon and chives
- 1½ lemons, finely grated rind and juice only
- 20 ml Pernod
- 12 skinless chicken breasts (about 225gm each), wingbones attached
- 75 gm (½ cup) plain flour, sifted
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 450 gm (6 cups) fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
- 1 iceberg lettuce, outer leaves discarded, cut into twelve thin wedges
- 1Process butter, garlic, herbs, rind, juice and Pernod in a food processor until smooth and combined (4-5 minutes), season to taste and process to combine, then refrigerate until butter starts to firm (10-15 minutes). Divide into 12 and form each piece into a 6cm-long cylinder, then refrigerate until firm (10-15 minutes).
- 2Meanwhile, working with one chicken breast at a time, place between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound gently with a meat mallet to flatten slightly. You don’t need to bash the hell out of it, just gently increase its girth by about 30 per cent. Make a small cut in the side of the thickest part of each breast and insert a portion of herb butter into each.
- 3Place flour, egg and breadcrumbs into separate shallow trays and dip each breast in flour, then egg, then crumbs, shaking off excess between layers. Press crumbs onto breast to help them stick. Layer crumbed breasts between plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours).
- 4Preheat oven to 100C and preheat sunflower oil in a deep-fryer or deep-sided saucepan to 160C. Deep-fry chicken in batches until golden and cooked through (8-10 minutes), drain, place on a rack in oven while cooking remaining chicken. This ensures crumbs remain crisp but chicken doesn’t overcook.
- 5To serve, cut each breast diagonally and serve on a warm plate with a crisp wedge of iceberg lettuce dressed with lemon-infused extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice.