Fried Chicken with Almond "Breading"

Believe it or not, it's not the oil used for frying that's killing you; instead, it's old oil that's turned into trans fats, plus the breading made from flour. Here's my version of the juiciest, most flavorful fried chicken you've ever tasted.

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce
2 skinless, boneless free-range chicken breasts
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh lemon (optional)

Combine the buttermilk and Tabasco in a sturdy resealable plastic bag or flat casserole dish. Pound the chicken breasts under a piece of plastic wrap with a wooden mallet or back of a heavy spoon until about 1/2 inch thick. Place the breasts in the buttermilk mixture and soak at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the almond meal, salt, and pepper and place in another resealable plastic bag.
Drain the chicken breasts and immediately drop one into the bag with the almond meal and shake to cover. Remove and repeat with second breast.
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook about 4 minutes on first side. Lower the heat to medium, turn the chicken, and cook 4 minutes on other side, or until done.
Remove the chicken to a carving board to sit for 2 minutes. Slice into 1/2 inch strips and serve over lettuce or other greens. Drizzle with oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Pesto Chicken: Prepare the following sauce and pour over the fried chicken: in blender or bowl of a small food processor, combine 1 cup basil (or Italian or curly parsley or cilantro), 1 garlic clove, and 4 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts. Pulse, adding 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil and processing until finely minced. Add extra oil if necessary to thin the sauce and, with motor running, add a 1-inch cube of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if desired.

Makes servings.
Per serving: calories, g total fat (g saturated), mg cholesterol, g dietary fiber, g carbohydrate, g protein, mg sodium.