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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chicken Is Your Friend

Chicken.  Yawn.  Think again.

If you were to ask my daughter Kate, she would tell you that we have chicken every night.  This is patently untrue, but, I must admit, we do eat a lot of chicken around here.  What?  Should we be different from every other family in the universe?

Here's the thing about chicken.  It is boring but it's a basic.  You can put anything with it and it goes.  I mean, how excited do you get when you go out any buy a new pair of black pants?   Not so much.  But, thinking about what you can wear with those pants, well for me at least, that gets my heart racing.

So, instead of thinking of chicken as dull, think of chicken as your friend.   (I didn't say chicken had to be your best friend, just one of your many friends.)   You don't have to fall over with excitement at the thought of chicken for dinner, but it's not too bad either.

I, like all of you, have a million chicken recipes.  And that's the key.  Recipes.  Don't slap some lemon pepper on the chicken and call it an entree.  No wonder you're bored.  Get out the cookbooks and try a few new recipes.  That's what I do.  I never "wing" it, with chicken.  (Pardon the pun, but it just had to be said.)

In the interest of furthering your friendship with chicken, here's a recipe that's sure to please.  You might even find yourself looking forward to getting together.

Chicken Parmesan
(Everyday Italian, 2005)


1 tbl. olive oil
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 chicken cutlet (about 3 oz. each)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup marinara sauce (recipe below or use prepared marinara sauce)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 tsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tbl. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 500.  In a small bowl, stir the oil and herbs to blend.  Brush both sides of the cutlets with the herb oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Heat an large, heavy ovenproof skillet over a high flame.  Add the cutlets and cook until just brown, about 1 minute per side.  Remove from the heat.

Spoon the marinara sauce over and around the cutlets.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the mozzarella over each cutlet, then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the parmesan over each.  Dot the tops with the butter pieces, and bake until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 5-10 minutes.

Basic Marinara Sauce
(Everyday Italian, 2005)


1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 (32 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 tsp each of the salt and pepper.  Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and the bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves.  Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.

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