Look, I've been keeping something from you. Nothing exciting sadly, but something potentially very helpful. And that something is my breaded chicken recipe. I make it at least twice a month. Sometimes more. So why I haven't I shared? Pure and shameful selfishness. I usually make it when I'm tired and overworked. Which means that I put absolutely no thought into it. I eyeball everything. I time nothing. So I haven't written it up for you because I knew it would be a pain in my delicate spoiled little rear to have to write down what I do and how I do it.
BUT. I'm having this recent spate of altruism where I'm feeling all sharey so I figured we might as well get this out before I go back to being self-involved. Author's note: There has been a 4 day delay between the writing and posting of this post. I am not only self-involved but flighty.
The best thing about breaded chicken? It's incredibly versatile. You can top it with fresh avocado and tomatoes and a drizzle of balsamic like I did. You can make it plain and put a little honey on the side for dipping. Mmm. Honey. You can add Parmigiano-Reggiano to the bread crumbs, delicious. Or you can make it my mother's way with a bit of thyme in the bread crumbs. It's like having 4 whole different dinners. All with one simple recipe. You can manage that. I have faith in you. Walk away from the Shake and Bake aisle. This will taste better. And eventually you will be able to throw it together without thinking like I do. Which is really helpful when you're unsure whether or not you have any brain cells left.
VERSATILE BREADED CHICKEN
for all three variations you need
3-4 Tablespoons Vegetable (or Canola or Olive) Oil
2 chicken breasts
1/8 Cup flour
hefty pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper
1 egg plus 1-2 Tablespoons Water
1/4 Cup store bought plain breadcrumbs
for breaded chicken with avocado and tomato with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar you need
1 avocado (if you're making this for 1 person, squeeze a bit of lemon over the spare half and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to slowing browning a bit)
1 C chopped tomatoes (or a few slices off a nice ripe one)
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar per breast
for breaded chicken with parm
1/8 to 1/4 C grated Parm (how much is dependent on how cheesy you like things)
for breaded chicken with thyme
2 teaspoons dried thyme
for plain breaded chicken with honey to dip
a few tablespoons of honey in a bowl for dipping.
Remove the chicken from its packaging. Rinse it and pat it dry. Trim off any nasty bits of fat or tendony parts. Keep the chicken on a cutting board and cover it with waxed paper or plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin or flat bottomed pan to pound the chicken (as in this recipe). Remember your goal is even thickness. Then prepare your breading station. I have no counter space, so mine is cramped. But you need to put the flour (1/8 Cup) on a plate and add the salt and pepper. You need to put the egg in a shallow dish with a tablespoon or two of water and use a fork to whisk it like it's scrambled eggs. You need to put the breadcrumbs (1/4 Cup) on a final plate. For breaded chicken with parm: Add the parm to the breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly. For breaded chicken with thyme: Add the thyme to the breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly. Get your pan heated up. Put the vegetable oil in a pan and make sure the bottom is well-coated. Put the heat to the high side of medium high. You'll know it's hot enough when a drop of water flicked in the pan sizzles and dances.
Okay, step one in breading: Take the chicken and dip it in the flour, until both sides are coated. Give a little shake so the extra flour falls off. Do both breasts. So you have this:
Next check your pan. You want to put the breaded chicken directly in it, so make sure it's warm enough. If it is, finish breading. Step 2 in breading: Dunk the chicken in the egg mixture. Get both sides covered. Then press it into the breadcrumbs, flip it over and press it in the breadcrumbs again. Make sure there are now blanks spots. Then put the chicken in your pan. It should make a satisfying sizzle (wear long sleeves, your oil may spit). Cook the chicken for 4 minutes on this side. Then flip. Pretty, see:
Allow 3-4 minutes on the second side, lower the heat if necessary. If you want to top it with avocado and tomato, now is the time to slice your avocado and chop/slice your tomato. When the chicken is done (I promise you'll get to know how this feels), remove it from the pan.
Now, if you like, serve it with a side of honey. Or top with the avocado and tomato and drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar over the top. Or just eat it. It's nice to have choices, isn't it?