Thursday, March 22, 2007

I feel like chicken tonight!

A free meal is a good meal, especially after surgery or giving birth. Even if it's a casserole with tater tots and canned green beans, right? Errr, yes and no. A friend of mine was brought a week of meals by moms from her daughter's preschool. First night, mmmm, chicken enchiladas. Second night, a pan of cheesy... chicken enchiladas. Well, it continued for 4 nights in a row. She hated to feel ungrateful, but one can only take so many pans of cream of chicken enchiladas. They ended up freezing the enchiladas, and I have no idea if they were ever eaten. She and her husband laughed about what each mom must have been thinking when they were cooking them, "Hmm, what should I make her? Oh, I know, cream of chicken enchiladas are so yummy. I bet she hasn't had those for a long time."

Do you have a meal that you make whenever you haven't planned anything? Something you can throw together without even thinking about it, and you KNOW you always have all the ingredients. This is mine. I always have fresh parmesan, chicken (though sometimes it's frozen), and Italian breadcrumbs. That's all you need. Now you have a new meal you can throw together when your day has been busy.

Here is a sure win recipe for taking dinner to someone. It is easily reheated, kids love it, and it's easy. I first had this at a friend, Amy's house. It is a Ina Garten (aka Barefoot Contessa) recipe found in her Family Style Cookbook. She recommends serving it on arugula, but kids love pasta, so we use whole wheat spaghetti and tomato sauce.

Parmesan Chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
unsalted butter
Olive oil
Cooked pasta
Premade spaghetti sauce (I love some kinds at World Market)

For regular Chicken Parmesan:
Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4 inch thick. (using a meat mallet or a rolling pin)

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a plate (I always use 3 paper plates--less of a mess). On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each sides, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts.

If you want you can serve it with arugula and lemon vinaigrette.

Lemon Vinaigrette
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For Kid Chicken Parmesan Sticks:
Lay the chicken breasts on a cutting board and slice diagonally into four or five large strips. Continue as directed with adult chicken (except pounding the chicken). Serve each strip on a skewer or stick. Serve with pasta, and sauce in a dipping cup.

You can keep cooked chicken warm in an oven of 200 degrees.

1 comment:

henryteachers said...

What an easy and yummy idea! I'll have to try them on a stick for my kids. They would love that! How funny about your friend and getting the same meal so many times. I actually just made dinner for a new mom too and guess what I made--chicken enchiladas!
:) Mindy