Italian-Style Chicken Salad and Garlic Bread
So I came upon this recipe in a Reader's Digest a few weeks ago (it was at work. there was nothing else to read. honest.) and lo, I find a Hellmann's ad that has a recipe in it for something I don't remember what it's called. It looked so good to me that I told myself that I'm going to buy the goods to make it that very night. And I did, and it was good. In fact, it was so good that I've made it about five times since then. Here's what the actual recipe calls for:
- 4 boneless chicken breast fillets
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1/4 shredded mozzarella cheese
- Italian style bread crumbs
Here's what I added:
Salad (any salad will do. I usually use Romaine. You can get this in pre-made bags) Garlic bread
Before I begin I follow the instructions on the garlic bread package. I don't know how you bake garlic bread, and honestly, I don't know the proper way to bake garlic bread. However, it makes things go much faster for me if I bake the garlic bread and then spend the time during to prepare the chicken. When the garlic bread is done, I take it out, put in the chicken at the specified temperature, and wait for it to finish. About five minutes before the chicken's finished, I slice the garlic bread in half, butter it up, put the halves back together, place it in the oven once chicken is done, and bake it for about 8 minutes. This provides a really nice, crispy crust with a soft tasty inside.
I start with the chicken. Any chicken will do really, but if you get thicker chicken, you may have to cook your breasts for about 25-30 minutes at 350. I use some fairly thin chicken breasts, and the ones shown below are incredibly good. If you can find this brand in your local grocer, you will not be disappointed. It's cheap and cooks very nicely. I only used three filets in this because Ozma is a pansy an can barely finish one filet, and still leaves salad and a slice of garlic bread to waste (I love you dear, please don't permarape me).
Since I've cooked this a few times, I kind of have an idea of what Ozma and I both like, so it's easy to vary the recipe a bit to accomodate our needs. I recommend that you start with the actual recipe first and then work from there. You should thaw the chicken, preferably at room tempature for a few hours. As you can see, I am impatient and do it in the microwave on defrost. Unfortunately, it cooks some of the chicken if you're not careful, however, it doesn't detract from the test for me, so whatever.
Put the mayo and mozzarella into the bowl and mix thoroughly. At this stage, after you've done it once or twice, you can get an idea of how much you really want. The Hellmann's recipe wanted me to use half a cup of mayo, which I thought was a little overboard. And since I like more cheese, I put more cheese than the recipe states. However, you do as you see fit. This part is where you can be flexible, and I encourage that you do so.
Next, spread some breadcrumbs on a plate. Lay your filet on the bed of crumbs, sprinkle crumbs graciously over the top of the chicken. Flip the chicken over several times to get maximum italian crumb penetration and then laugh about the fact that I thought maximum italian crumb penetration would be funny. Because it isn't. Lay the chicken on a dark cookie sheet. About this time, the garlic bread should be finished. Take out the bread, put your seasoned chicken filets in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
Once the chicken is finished, take the filets out of the oven, put your bread back in at the temperature you had it set at before, let it bake. Meanwhile take your salad, lay a healthy (puns ) bed of salad on your plate. Cut your chicken into thin slices. Now, this probably won't take you 8 minutes to do, so what I do is cut the chicken up but keep them together to preserve the heat, that way they won't get cold laying there on the salad bed while you're waiting for the bread to finish.
Once the bread is done baking, take it out of the oven, slice it evenly. If you're cooking for just two people, I would cut the bread in half before you bake it and bake only that half, unless you really really like garlic bread. I can usually use one loaf for two meals. Anyhow, once that is done, take your chicken slices and spread them evenly over the bed of salad. Sprinkle some alfalfa (or whatever you want) over the salad, and there you have it, an extremely tasty chicken salad dinner, guaranteed to fill you up. Spread some ranch dressing, or italian, or whatever tastes best to you over the top and enjoy.
Now, this is where I complain. I see a lot of recipes posted for really good tasting food in GBS, yet their presentation always makes the meals look rather unappetizing. I plead with you people to experiment a little and give your meal a nice presentation. You don't have to be ultra fancy with it, in fact, you don't have to be fancy at all. But a nice presentation makes a good meal, that much better. It's food for the eyes as well as the stomach and you enjoy a meal more when it looks like there has been a lot of care and effort put into it, rather than just thrown on a plate. Not to say that this recipe is hard, because it isn't. But do whatever makes you happiest. It is your food, afterall.
I enjoyed this recipe so much that I had to share it with you guys. It's incredibly simple to make, but a little messy. It's very very good, very healthy, and I'm so damn full that I can't move. From one bag of chicken, and all of the supplies to make this, I can get about three or four meals for the both of us. Everything is about $20 total, so I figure that $5 for a meal to feed us both to a point that we don't want to look at food anymore is a pretty good deal. Enjoy!