Multi-tasking. We hear so much about it in the context of work, school, parenthood. But where it is most important to me is in the kitchen. I love multi-purpose ingredients and I especially adore cooking a meal that allows me to use up ingredients I have at home already and whose leftovers can be used in various ways.
This super-simple recipe from one of my dear friends, Brenda, qualifies for all of the above. There is not much to it, but one simple twist makes it stand out from your usual breaded chicken recipe: you dip the chicken in garlic-flavored olive oil instead of some sort of egg or milk mixture before coating with the breading. And if you have leftovers (unlikely!), there are lots of great ways to use them. The last time I made this chicken, I flavored the bread crumb mixture with Italian seasonings and used the leftover chicken to make chicken parmigiana sandwiches the next evening. You could cut the leftovers into strips and prepare a caesar chicken salad the next day… you get the idea.
The breading is also a smart way to use up leftover bread/bread crumbs/crackers/even cereal in your house. Use whatever strikes your fancy. Sometimes I use homemade crumbs from leftover bread, sometimes Japanese panko, sometimes store-bought bread crumbs, sometimes leftover crackers or even cereal that isn’t too sweet – corn flakes or raisin bran for example.
This recipe will be just approximations – you decide how much chicken and what type you want to use (boneless skinless thighs or breasts or pre-cut breast tenders), you decide what breading to use and what olive oil you have around and then you create. I’ve never used a written recipe for this — just a process or template. So that is what I will share with you, trying to give you some baselines for quantities.
boneless skinless chicken – about 20 tenders, 6 or 7 half breasts or 12 thighs
2.5 cups bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or cereal (any combination you like)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 or 4 garlic cloves cut in half
1/2 – 2/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
- Place garlic cloves and olive oil in a small saute pan on med low and let the oil and garlic heat up – but don’t let it boil. 5 or 10 minutes will do it. Then let it sit for a bit and cool down.
- While the oil is being infused with the garlic on the stove, prepare the bread crumb mixture on a large plate. Combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper. (This step is where you can be creative if you want – add some cayenne or crushed red pepper; skip the Italian seasoning and go for cumin and chili powder; eliminate the parmesan cheese or use romano or asiago instead)
- Clean any excess fat from your chicken pieces or cut to equal serving size portions if you want to.
- Once olive oil is cooled down, dip each chicken piece in olive oil mixture and then bread crumb mixture and place on a non-stick or parchment-lined baking sheet.
- If you have extra bread crumbs, sprinkle the extra over the top of the chicken.
- Bake at 325 convect or 350 regular for about 20 minutes convect, 30 minutes regular (exact time will depend on thickness of chicken pieces and the temperature of your particular oven)
I have made this recipe 10 or 20 times with everything from breasts to thighs to pre-cut tenders and it has always been moist and flavorful. My family smiles when they see me making this and yes they frequently exclaim OMG! Yummy when they eat it. Really they do.
Brenda, who shared this recipe with me, is not only creative in the kitchen, she has one of the most positive attitudes about life of anyone I know. You can learn more about her approach to living a balanced, happy life on her web site: Clarity Works