Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What's For Dinner?

I'm always looking for simple dinner recipes to try at home and to do so I make sure I have some specific items always in my pantry or fridge/freezer; boneless, skinless chicken breasts or ground beef, bread crumbs, canned vegetables, olive oil, flour, pasta and basic spices. This helps me limit the amount of special ingredients I need for recipes during the week. These days, produce is so expensive so if I'm buying for a specific recipe I try to plan ahead for other ways to use it before it goes bad in the fridge. If a recipe calls for celery but I don't use it all, I'll plan on celery and peanut butter for a light snack one day or if I have leftover lemons or oranges, I'll chop them up and use them to freshen my garbage disposal. Some ingredients are harder to use in multiple recipes which is why I use http://www.supercook.com/ . This website is a great way to utilize the ingredients in your home. Just type in various ingredients that you have in your kitchen and it will give you options for recipes. Tonight I wanted to use some chicken breasts and thought of maybe trying a Chicken Parmesan recipe. I found this one on FoodNetwork.com and it was a HIT! 

Start out by thawing (if you keep your chicken in the freezer like me) 4 to 6 chicken breasts. For two people I only cooked 4 chicken breasts and it was more than plenty. Once your chicken breasts have thawed, begin setting up your stations and preparing your chicken.

             Chicken Parmesan
4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4 inch thick. You can either you a meat mallet or a rolling pin.

Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. 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 side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. I served my chicken parmesan with green beans and sweet corn but you can add whatever you like.

NOTE: This recipe is great but I would like to add a few things that may help you. Although it calls for freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated parmesan, black pepper and pregrated parmesan work just fine. If you want more of a bite in the bread crumbs I would suggest sticking to the fresh parmesan. Also, I used Great Value brand Italian seasoned bread crumbs and they were wonderful so keep your eye out for that if you're interested. If you are unable to pound the breasts and they are a bit thicker than a 1/4 of an inch, keep your heat on medium and slowly saute so the chicken will fully cook and you won't burn your crust. 
One more thing, this may be obvious to many of you but DO NOT reuse any leftover flour or bread crumb mixtures in your stations. These mixes have come in contact with raw chicken and can contaminate anything you use it with. I hope you find this recipe as yummy as I did! Enjoy!

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