Parmesan Chicken

Not to be confused with Chicken Parmesan, which is fairly heavy and smothered with tomato sauce, Parmesan Chicken is, while breaded, very light and almost delicate. If you leave out the pepper, this dish is a winner with most children, even the picky eaters.

Serve it with Caesar Salad or Grape Tomatoes with Garlic and Olive Oil, steamed or roasted broccoli, or broccoli rabe.

These chicken breasts are also great served, hot or cold, in hollowed out baguettes with fresh mozzarella cheese and, if desired, sliced tomatoes.

For a no-fuss hot-weather meal, toss salad greens with Lemon Pepper Dressing. Place a mound of salad on a plate and top with a chicken breast. Serve with extra grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6 to 8.

6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 3 pounds), trimmed of fat and membrane, pounded to an even thickness
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1½ teaspoons black pepper or crushed red pepper (optional)
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
¼ cup water
1 cup toasted bread crumbs
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. Place the chicken and the lemon juice in a large ceramic or glass mixing bowl, or in a resealable plastic bag, cover or seal, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but no more than 1 hour. Drain the chicken breasts, discarding the lemon juice. Pat dry with a paper towel. This is a very important step: if the chicken is not dry, the coating will not stick.

2. Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper. Place the flour on a large plate. Place the eggs and water in a shallow mixing bowl and whisk until uniform. Place the bread crumbs, Parmesan, oregano, and basil on another large plate and mix to combine.

3. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

4. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess, and then in the eggs, again removing any excess. Dip in the bread crumb mixture to coat.

5. Place the breaded chicken on a wire rack, if you have one. If not, place it on a plate covered with waxed paper. Refrigerate uncovered at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.

6. Place a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the chicken breasts one at a time, allowing the pan to reheat for about 30 seconds between additions. Cook until the chicken is deeply browned and the juices run clear, about 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. You will probably need to cook the chicken in two batches.

7. As they are cooked, transfer the chicken breasts to a sheet pan and keep the warm in the oven for up to 15 minutes.

From Warehouse to Your House: More than 250 Simple, Spectacular Recipes to Cook, Store, and Share When You Buy in Quantity (Simon & Schuster, 2006)