Fig Leaf Chicken Escalopes with Cauliflower Cream

Dried, ground fig leaves bring a hint of coconut to sweet and savoury dishes. Make this adaptable seasoning yourself if you have access to fig leaves, if not it really doesn’t matter for this recipe because the escalopes will be delicious without. Cauliflower cream is best described as pureed cauliflower cheese but that undersells a fluffy, creamy and intriguingly delicious puree. It takes a moment or two to identify cauliflower because it has none of the usual cabbagey flavour and is such an unexpected way to serve this snowy white vegetable. The puree is perfectly matched with anything salty – believe it or not it is wonderful cold on toast with caviar – and particularly good with fillets of white fish dipped in herby green breadcrumbs. Serve the cauli cream like mashed potato, with a lemon wedge to squeeze over the chicken.  

Serves 4

Prep: 20 min chicken/15 min cauli

Cook: 10 min chicken/10 min cauli

4 chicken thigh fillets


2 eggs

200g breadcrumbs

2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan

1 tsp ground, dried fig leaves (optional)

sunflower or similar oil

for the cauli cream:

1 cauliflower

150ml thick cream, creme fraiche or mascarpone

75g mature cheddar or other strong cheese

squeeze of lemon

First make the cauli cream. Remove and discard the stalks and leaves from the cauliflower. Cut into quarters and then into florets. Bring about 10cm of water to the boil in a medium sized saucepan, add 1 tsp salt and the cauliflower. Return to the boil, cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until completely tender. Drain but reserve two tablespoons of cooking water. Place cauliflower, reserved water, cream and grated cheddar in the bowl of a food processor and blitz to make a smooth, thick, creamy white sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and a squeeze of lemon. Re-heats perfectly but stir well before serving. To make the escalopes, unfurl the chicken, removing skin and any fat as necessary. Pat dry with kitchen paper and working on one fillet at a time, place on a large piece of kitchen parchment. Cover with a second piece. Use a rolling pin and bash firmly until the fillet is almost double its original size. Turn regularly and turn over regularly so you strike evenly all over the fillet. Remove the top sheet, dust the pieces with flour, shake off excess and return to the sheet of parchment. Whisk the egg in a shallow bowl and spread the crumbs mixed with 2 tbsp Parmesan on a large plate/chopping board. Using tongs, swipe one chicken piece at a time through the egg and then onto the crumbs, transferring to a plate. Either chill covered with a stretch of clingfilm or cook immediately by heating the 2 tbsp oil in a spacious frying pan over a medium heat. Cook one escalope at a time, frying for a couple of minutes until you can see crusty edges, then turn, repeat then lower the temperature and cook gently for a couple of minutes a side until the chicken is cooked through. Transfer to kitchen paper to drain. Keep warm while you cook the second piece.