Last week, sometime early Tuesday morning, I officially finished writing the 29,000 words that make up my part of the book manuscript I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into for the past few months. I can hardly believe it’s done. Well, not completely done, but close enough that you know what I mean.
I’ve literally thought of very little else since I started working on this with Julie, and in the past few months I have typed out pretty much every single thought I have about feeding friends and family, and while I’m certain I’ll think of something to add the minute the publisher is holding our words in her hands, at the moment my brain feels pretty depleted of any coherent thoughts, and I’m excited to do something other than write on a computer all day.
My family is over-the-moon enthusiastic that I’ve written part of a book, but they’re even more thrilled that I’ve finally finished, and when they all walked in the door last Friday afternoon and found me in the kitchen cooking a proper dinner they looked a little lost. After a month of nothing but recipe-testing remnants and whatever else I could manage to put together, they were facing a meal made up of meat (hugely important to these big lads of mine), pasta (another favourite), salad, and all the fixings. It was a pretty great way to kick off the weekend, and the added bonus of knowing there was enough food for leftovers, guaranteeing them two decent meals in as many days, really reminded them of just how happy they are that my book-writing days are mostly behind me for now. I absolutely loved the experience, and hope it’s one I get to repeat someday, but for today I’m pretty happy just to be back in the kitchen cooking dinner for my three hungry boys.
This is an excellent recipe for easy entertaining, or whenever you need to feed a group of people, especially if it includes kids. You can fry up the chicken in advance, and then throw it in the oven to warm through and melt the cheese while the pasta is cooking.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup panko or plain breadcrumbs
- 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 ½ tsp. dried oregano
- Pinch of salt
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 3 cups tomato or pizza sauce
- 1lb. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
On a long piece of parchment paper, lay down the chicken breasts and slice each in half horizontally through the middle. Combine the panko, 3/4 cups of the Parmesan, one teaspoon of the dried oregano, and salt on a large plate and stir with a fork to combine. On a second plate, or in a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat two tablespoons of the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Season a piece of the chicken with salt and pepper; dredge through the eggs, then in the breadcrumbs completely covering both sides of the chicken. Repeat with remaining pieces of meat and cook in a single layer (adding more oil and butter to the pan as needed – you’ll likely have to do this in batches) until golden brown, 3-4 minutes per side.
Spread 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a 9" x 13" (or similar sized) casserole dish. Top with chicken pieces and spread half of the remaining sauce over the cutlets. Arrange the slices of mozzarella over top and cover with the remaining Parmesan cheese and oregano. Spoon the last of the sauce over top and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with spaghetti noodles tossed with olive oil, garlic and parsley, or on a large crusty bun.