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Cooking for Five

Today we got a new roommate, our last. The fourth bedroom had remained empty as the others slowly filled up with people. It doesn’t have quite the interest of the other rooms, though it does retain its fireplace (nonworking), probably because it is kind of awkward, with pergo flooring. She’s settling in, though, and it’s nice to have this last space claimed by someone.

So we were four for dinner, two roommates, me & the boyfriend, when we were suddenly a fifth and I had to quickly juggle portions and grab chicken out of the freezer before it was solid. Thankfully I was cooking a very fast-prep meal of chicken milanese, brussels sprouts, broccoli and a small salad.

Chicken Milanese

4 chicken breasts, de-boned, skinless
1 jar (or homemade) marinara
parmigiano/reggiano/pecorino cheese
salt/pepper to taste
2 eggs
bread crumbs
olive oil

Three pieces of bread, in a 200F oven for 20 minutes or so, when crushed fine will cover 5 chicken breasts (I discovered, to my relief).

Pound chicken breasts flat with bottom of heavy cup or a meat tenderizer, if you have one. Beat two eggs, season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in egg mixture, wipe off excess, then coat them in the bread crumbs. Put them in a pan heated to medium high, with a good amount of olive oil, until nicely browned, about 2 minutes each side. Top with a couple tsps of marinara and add grated cheese. Stick this in an oven on about 250/300F until cheese is melted. If your chicken has cooked all the way through, you don’t need to put it in the oven more than a few minutes.

Just before starting the chicken (which should be cooked in two skillets, to save time), follow Heidi Swanson’s golden crusted brussels sprouts recipe, which is simple and produces delicious, tender sprouts.

Nothing much else to do, steam some broccoli and/or make a salad. All four is a bit much, portion-wise, so pick wisely. Oh, I used butter leaf lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, tossed with a homemade salad dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, salt & pepper. It’s my favorite. Add a little lemon if you have it, it really brightens up the dressing. Or use rice vinegar! It’s a really basic, really easy-to-alter dressing recipe.

I made myself proud by whipping this meal out in under an hour but can’t take all the credit as the boyfriend was a fabulous sous chef, doing much of the prep work. It really surprised me how fast this went from bags of groceries to meal-on-plate.

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