My sister texted me the other night at work inquiring what to make for dinner. Although a very broad and vague question, the first thing that popped into my head was chicken. Most people who like to cook and keep their fridges (or freezers!) stocked have boneless, skinless chicken breasts on hand, and as we all know, there are countless things to do with the popular white meat.
Of course, I’m not about to tell you all the delicious, creative, and weird things you can do with chicken; but rather, I am going to give you a basic recipe and different things to “pair” it with so you have a back-up chicken recipe that can go with many ingredients both in the pantry and the fridge on nights when you’re indecisive, inspired, or have company.
Things you should always have around the kitchen (that come in handy for chicken dishes!)
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I love when it’s buy one get one free. I have enough chicken for my boyfriend and I for two nights in one package and can throw the other one in the freezer for later…now if only I could remember to take it out of the freezer when I need it…)
- Pasta (I suggest always having penne or farfalle, whichever you prefer, AS WELL AS a long pasta–angel hair, spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, etc.)
- Pasta Sauce (I’m ok with jarred sauces, but if I had the time and the freezer space, I would make my own sauce and freeze it)
- Arugula (it’s expensive and can be hard to find, so a spring mix will do!)
- Cheese (there is no such thing as having too much cheese. I always have Parmesan and Pecorino)
- Flour (all-purpose)
- Panko (I’m a big fan of these Japanese “breadcrumbs”, but if you can’t find them or don’t prefer them, I will permit regular breadcrumbs. I keep both handy)
- Lemons (PLEASE don’t use the stuff in the green bottles shaped like lemons. yuck!)
4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Flour to dredge in
2-3 eggs, beaten
Panko or breadcrumbs to dredge in
Olive oil, for frying
- Pound the chicken until it’s about 1/4 inch thick.
- Season the flour with season salt or salt and pepper
- Season the Panko with parmesan cheese
- Dredge the chicken through the flour, then the egg, then the Panko. This can be done ahead, just cover the chicken and put back in the fridge until you’re ready to cook!
- Heat some olive oil on medium/high heat (enough to cover the bottom of your frying pan)
- Cook the chicken, turning once, for about 10 minutes, or until cooked through (about 5 minutes on each side)
- and THAT’S IT!
Now for the variations
Make Versatile chicken and place on top of your favorite long pasta. Top with your favorite pasta sauce and melted mozzarella. Chicken Parmesan!
Make Versatile Chicken but add sliced lemons, lemon juice, chicken broth and capers at the end. Remove the chicken and let the “sauce” simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of butter at the end to thicken the sauce and serve the sauce over the chicken and pasta (farfalle, fettuccine) or over the chicken and your favorite rice. You’ve got Chicken Picatta
Omit the capers and add some wine to the sauce and call it Chicken Francese 😀
Make Versatile Chicken and service on top of a bed of lightly dressed arugula (lemon and olive oil) and serve prosciutto on top! One of my favorites!
Make Versatile Chicken and slice and toss it with a spring mix, dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Add gorgonzola or goat cheese, roasted pecans, thinly sliced sweet onion, salt and pepper.
What would YOU pair the Versatile Chicken with??