Chez Blume 10.25.2010

I try very hard when I'm in the grocery checkout line to keep my eyes faced forward.  It's not the candy.  It's the magazines.  Between the imperative, need-to-know stories featured on the cover of US Weekly; the home magazines which will really, finally inspire me to make my home so absolutely beautiful; and the luscious food (oh God the food!) on the cover of any food magazine, I feel compelled to purchase at least one magazine due to the vital information contained within the magazine. I must have the vital information.

The worst are those "special edition" cooking magazines.  You know the ones I'm talking about:  "Favorite Chicken Recipes from the South with Some Yankee Influence", or "Favorite Cakes Using 7 Sticks of Crisco", or "Favorite Casseroles Using At Least Two Cans of Condensed Soup".  I'm a sucker for those special editions. 

Back in the spring of this year, I purchased Fine Cooking's "Make It Tonight".  What lured me into this magazine was not the cover shot (a bowl of beef and bean chili with avocado bits) but the promise of a quick, delicious meal.  That promise has been fulfilled, and that $9.99 (before taxes) I spent has proven to be a worthy investment.  I've cooked several recipes over and over again and they are delicious.

Tonight I made the Parmesan-crusted chicken, which was easy.  I paired that with steamed broccoli with cubed ham, stir fried in a tablespoon of butter and a few pinches of salt.  Eric and I had champagne to drink with our dinner, and the kids had apple juice and water.

Here are the ingredients for the Parmesan chicken and in parentheses is what I used:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about six ounces each) (I used about 1.5 pounds of chicken breast strips -- Perdue)
  • 6 Tbs. Dijon-style mustard (I used organic Dijon mustard from Whole Foods)
  • 1Tbs. white wine or water (I used Pino Grigio from Balducci's that has been sitting around in our kitchen for a few weeks)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I grated on the large side of a grater)
  • 1 cup fresh English muffin (or sandwich bread) crumbs (I bought a can of Jason's bread crumbs, flavored; loved the smell)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbs. melted butter

In  a shallow bowl you mix the mustard, wine, and pepper, then add the chicken.  The recipe says you can marinate up to two hours; next time I make this I will marinate overnight.  I love the combination of Dijon mustard and chicken, and it just can't be intense enough for me.

In a separate dish, mix the Parmesan and bread crumbs with some black pepper.  Then drizzle the melted butter and combine.

Switch on the oven to 450 degrees, butter a baking sheet or rack. 

The recipe then went into using your "wet" hand and your "dry" hand but I ignored all of that and used my right hand to place the marinated chicken into the bread crumb mixture and roll it around until it was completely covered.  It looked fantastic before it was cooked and even more fantastic when it came out of the oven. Using the larger side of a grater gives the chicken incredible texture on the outside.

Then place the chicken on the baking sheet, stick it in the oven for 30 minutes, and voila!  You have fantastically delicious chicken! 

As you may know, broccoli is a favorite at our dinner table so I steamed two heads of broccoli.  I wanted to try doing something with pancetta and broccoli but the Balducci's near my house was out of pancetta.  I got instead two thick slices of ham, cubed them, and then stir fried in a tablespoon of butter.  While the ham sizzled in the pan, I sprinkled some paprika, which gave them ham a deeper pink color.  I don't know how long the ham was on the stove, but at some point I decided it was enough.  I tossed the ham with the broccoli and a few pinches of salt.  The result was delicious. 

When we sat down to dinner, I served the meal by candlelight, with champagne.