Ah, the allure of fast food. Sometimes I think back to the days of my childhood when I loaded up on the unhealthiest food in the world: McDonald’s, KFC, Oreos, Slim Jims, and the list could go on. How did I possibly do that? Well, I did and I didn’t because while I consumed each and every bite, my body eventually rebelled and I got to experience the lovely chubby adolescent phase of my life. I never really questioned a Big Mac before soccer practice, but just thinking about it now gives me heartburn.
Luckily, I was coerced into running cross country by my first coach, Tony Haynes and a few other girls from the team. The rest is history. Ok, take a step back. I must give credit where credit is due. My dad was the one who dragged me around the community track in order to prepare for junior high P.E. I didn’t like it, but it got me running a little bit more in between soccer practices. These days, I am the one running with my sister, and mixing up the latest and greatest health foods. I adore including flaxseed and wheat flour wherever I can, mostly sneaking it into the various meals we are making since my family is quite skeptical. My mom and sister roll their eyes when I bring out the chia seeds, but hey, if it makes me feel good, certainly better than the McD’s pancakes or Jimmy Dean sandwiches we used to consume, then I’ll keep doing it.
I hope this post will not come off as “high-and-mighty” because let’s be honest, I, like many others, do not have the best willpower. So while I have sworn off many fast food joints, simply because I am picky and do not like the way it tastes, I still crave my sweets and even things like chicken tenders. It was actually Meghan who stumbled upon a recipe for Parmesean Crusted Chicken from our Real Simple book, Meals Made Easy. It’s a wonderful cookbook that accumulates all of its recipes from the various magazine editions and more or as it likes to describe: “Quick and Delicious Recipes for Every Night of the Week.”
Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Cutlets
hands-on time: 20 minutes; total time: about 30 minutes; makes 4 servings (well, depends on how chicken crazy you/your mother gets about purchasing chicken tenders)
2 large eggs
1 tbsp mustard (recommended Dijon, but I sneaked in a little honey mustard)
2 1/4 cups finely grated Parmesean (one container will suffice)
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 – 1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets (breasts or tenders work just as well – it works best to flatten them by placing them in between two sheets of plastic and rolling or pounding them with your choice of object – rolling pin, meat pounder, heavy skillet, bottle of wine)
6 tbsp olive oil
Your choice of sides (broiled veggies)
In one bowl, whisk together the eggs and mustard. Set it aside and in a separate bowl, mix together the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Then one by one, dip a chicken tender/cutlet/item into the egg mixture, hold it for a few seconds so any excess drips off, then place it in the crumb-cheese mixture and cover thoroughly. Make sure to coat both sides well.
Transfer it to a plate until you are ready to place them in the oil. If you are working with a partner as I was lucky enough to do 🙂 (thanks Megnan) I simply handed her the next chicken and away we went.
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add about half of the cutlets and cook, turning once until browned. This should take about 3-5 minutes per side. Once finished you are pretty much left with delicious chicken strips or chicken tenders.
One way to serve is to place over a bed of lettuce and drizzle some lemon and the remaining Parmesan over the top. Another way would be to serve with grilled vegetables and your choice of carb. I say that only because in our family we tend to disagree over carbs. For this dinner in particular, we went with some frozen fries and sweet potato fries, although in the future, I wouldn’t be adverse to slicing up some of my own sweet potato and broiling that along with the veggies.
I do have to say, our creation tasted just like the Colonel’s, if not better. It was also affirmed by Meghan, our very own “Queen of Chicken Tenders.” At the beginning of this post, I talked about all the lovely meals we used to indulge in and throughout our younger years. Well, during this time, Meghan experienced her fair share of chicken tenders and became quite the expert on the subject matter. So, when in doubt we always look to her so see where the kitchen’s creations rank on her scale.
These were great hot, cold, in salad, as a side, or main course. I may have looked down upon a few of the favorite fast-food chains in today’s post, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be on the look-out for some fun hot-spots. I’m not discounting them entirely because there are still a few on my radar to sample. (Bob’s Big Boy, TOPS, The Habit…all classics). However, that being said, I am armed and ready to makeover any recipe that comes my way. Watch out Betty Crocker 😉
“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.