Cutlets are a cut above with cheesy filling, tomatoes
By Jill L. Reed
Usually, I am good about making a meal plan and sticking to it. When I don’t, crazy things tend to come out of the kitchen.
Last week, between work and doctor appointments and the need to just nap, the plan and the shopping did not get done.
There was also the question of grocery shop or pedicure. Well, let’s just say my toes, with the candy-apple red polish, look lovely.
As for dinner, planning and shopping would need to be done on the go, literally. I was driving home one day, thinking about what would be easy and fast, what was already in the fridge and what would need to be purchased.
After a restaurant-heavy weekend, I was determined that the week would include all home-cooked meals. Even if it meant quick grocery runs on the way home. No takeout. No drive-thrus.
As I sat in traffic and did my mental inventory of the kitchen, I remembered a favorite easy dish of chicken cutlets with a filling of cheese and tomato that had fallen off my radar for no particular reason. I think I must have just been making it a lot and was in a rut.
But being such a simple dish, I was able to recall what I would need to get to supplement what I already had. To make prep easier, I skipped getting chicken breast pieces that need to be pounded into cutlets and went right for the pieces that are already thin enough.
The filling, made with Parmesan cheese, Italian parsley, garlic and a little anchovy paste (no, it does not make it fishy, it just adds a light salty earthiness), is easy to make. The tomatoes merely have to be washed and sliced and added to the dish.
The key to keeping these together is to not cut the tomato too thick and to make sure the chicken gets nice and brown on the first side before you flip it.
The addition of a little wine or broth to the pan results in a lovely pan sauce or jus that is a light but flavorful addition drizzled over the top of the finished dish.
It was far from crazy and much tastier than takeout.
TOMATO-AND-CHEESE-STUFFED CHICKEN POCKETS
Yield: 4 servings
1 cube frozen garlic, thawed (or 1 clove garlic, minced and mashed to a paste)
1-2 teaspoons anchovy paste
¼ cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for cooking
4 chicken cutlets (about ¼ pound each), flattened to ¼-inch thickness
2 Roma tomatoes, cut into 8 slices
½ cup dry white wine or chicken broth
Extra chopped Italian parsley for garnish, optional
Cook’s notes: Anchovy paste can be found at most supermarkets in the canned fish aisle. I like the saltiness and the little bit of umami this adds. If you do not like it, just leave it out or use less. For our tastes, 2 teaspoons is just right.
1. Stir together garlic, anchovy paste, parsley, Parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon olive oil to make a thick paste.
2. Lay chicken cutlets flat on a prep board, season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide the cheese mixture evenly among the pieces, spreading it out to cover one side of each cutlet.
3. Place two tomato slices on one end of each chicken cutlet then fold the other half of the cutlet to cover the tomatoes, pressing gently.
4. Heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces, being careful not to let them unfold. Brown for about 2 minutes on one side then flip. Brown 2 minutes on the other side.
5. Reduce heat to low, add the white wine or broth and cover the skillet. Cook 3-5 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
6. Serve with pan juices and a sprinkle of the chopped parsley garnish, if using.
Adapted from: Gourmet magazine, August 2007