Fried chicken lightly flavored with cinnamon is a traditional Hanukkah specialty in Italy. Used without any sweetening, the cinnamon acts in concert here with savory garlic and lemon to produce a very fragrant, yet subtle, marinade.
To accentuate the delicacy of the dish, I dip the chicken in egg after dusting it lightly with matzoh meal. And I fry each batch with a few pieces of celery–a trick sent in to Cook’s Illustrated magazine by one of its readers–which makes the chicken beautifully golden and more flavorful.
In a large bowl or non-reactive baking dish, whisk together the cinnamon, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover and marinate for 2 to 3 hours in the refrigerator, turning the chicken occasionally.
Set up a work station near the stove. Spread
Dredge the cutlets well with the matzoh meal, rubbing it lightly into the chicken. Make sure each cutlet is covered all over with meal. If necessary, add more matzoh meal, remembering to add more seasoning.
Serve the chicken right away, accompanied by the lemon wedges and garnished, if you’d like, with fresh parsley. It really needs no sauce.
“The logs of Jerusalem were of the cinnamon tree, and when lit, their fragrance pervaded the whole of Erez Israel.”
–Babylonian Talmud: Shabbat
© 2008 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.