It was a Monday night and I needed something quick and simple for dinner. Mondays are a busy day here and I often work right up until dinner time, leaving me little time to cook. What Would Martha Do? A recipe from Everyday Food for light chicken parm seemed like it should fit the bill for this. I actually found this on the web site, not in the mag.
The first hurdle with the recipe is something that’s not in the recipe – or any recipe for that matter. Defrosting the chicken. While it’s nice to use fresh meat, I don’t often plan my meals out in advance, so I don’t have fresh chicken sitting in the fridge, singing a little chicken song to itself and waiting happily to be used.
I find defrosting to be a challenge. You have to be careful to do it slowly so it doesn’t cook the edges, but you do have to get it to defrost fully. Nothing is worse than that gross white cooked edges you get. What I usually do is defrost it most of the way, then let it just sit in the microwave for about 10 or 15 minutes and it seems to do the rest itself. That’s my tip for the day, folks. Genius, I know.
Ok, to get down to business I had to first make the breadcrumbs. Normally I just use a store brand Italian breadcrumb mix, but Martha dictates the use of pieces of wheat bread ground up with some salt and pepper, oil and parm cheese. I do like the idea of using up some old bread crusts and I always prefer whole wheat to white, however having to get the Cuisinart dirty is a pain. There’s never room in the dishwasher for that darn thing. I usually avoid it like the plague. I do think this breadcrumb mixture needed some herbs, but Martha did not suggest them.
The most exciting idea in this recipe is the directive to only bread one side of the chicken breasts. I never thought of doing this, but it is brilliant. It cuts calories and you do not notice the difference.
My chicken breasts did not cook in the time specified – 10 to 12 minutes. Granted, I used organic chicken and I find it does take longer. At 9 minutes it was raw inside and getting almost burned on the outside. I switched to convection at 375 degrees and cooked it another 10 minutes and it was perfect.
The breading did not taste as crisp as I normally would like. I usually pan fry my chicken parm with a little olive oil, so I did miss that a little, but this is a nice light alternative.
I confess I used a jar of spaghetti sauce that was sitting already opened in the fridge (I know, so not Martha)instead of making the tomato sauce in the recipe. On a Monday night I would much rather do that, not to mention my 10 year old would much prefer something from a jar.
All in all, I would call this recipe a good thing. My biggest takeaway from it is the idea of breading only one side. Thanks Martha.
What Martha recipes do you suggest for a busy weeknight?
This meal is a staple in our household. I make it at least twice a month and love the way Martha does it all from scratch. I’m guilty of using the jar of sauce too – it saves so much time. All in all, it’s a healthy meal that’s affordable and easy to make. I am looking forward to reading about more of her meals you experiment with.