The older I get and the more children I have, the less I want to host dinner parties. Several years ago, planning and executing dinner parties was my most favorite thing to do. Back then I had one child, numerous childless friends, and more time to plan and cook. Things are very different now. I have four children and almost no time for such frivolities. My childless friends now have children themselves, and it is all we can do to e-mail one another or meet for lunch once in a while. Last month we invited friends over for dinner. We rarely see these dear people, and I wanted to offer them comforting food. But my life being what it is, I did not plan the meal until that morning. As I drifted through the grocery store, I felt increasingly frustrated with my inability to pull off a tasty evening. I stopped in the meat isle and had a little talk with myself, and here is how it went:
Type A Rebecca: Why are you incapable of keeping it together?
Overwhelmed Rebecca: I guess I just have too much on my plate. I’m sorry (said apologetically).
Type A Rebecca: You have been cooking since you were eight. You have buckets of experience. If you can’t pull together a good meal for friends by now, you have failed.
Overwhelmed Rebecca: I haven’t failed. I’ve just been busy. I’ve had four kids in seven years. I put my husband through graduate school. I manage a home. What have you done?
Type A Rebecca: I gave up a lot for you. I am held captive in the dark recesses of your mind, only to emerge when you wonder whether or not you should have gone to law school (which you didn’t, by the way).
Overwhelmed Rebecca:Yeah, you don’t need to remind me.
Type A Rebecca: Whatever. You need to decide what to serve these people. And fast. How about Steaks au Vinagre?
Overwhelmed Rebecca:Too hard.
Type A Rebecca: Roast?
Overwhelmed Rebecca:Too generic.
Type A Rebecca:Lobster?
Overwhelmed Rebecca:The girls would cry if they saw the little guys going into the big pot.
Type A Rebecca: Wow, you really are inadequate. Let me give you something you can wrap your simple mind around: chicken cutlets.
Overwhelmed Rebecca: I love chicken cutlets! They are easy, yummy, impressive, and even little kids love them.
Type A Rebecca:There you go. And don’t forget the arugula, lemon wedges and bread.
Chicken Cutlets (Italians call it Chicken Milanese)
fresh bread crumbs
parmesan cheese (optional)
splash of milk
chicken cutlets (my favorite are the Perdue Thin Sliced Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts)*
*If you don’t buy pre sliced thin chicken breasts, be sure to pound your chicken until it is incredibly thin. We’re talking like 1/16″ thin.
Heat pan over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix egg with milk, beat well with fork. Toss bread crumbs, a bit of shredded parmesan cheese, and a few dashes of salt. Spread bread crumb mixture on plate. Dip individual chicken breasts in egg wash, then bread crumbs. Fry in pan until both sides are golden brown. Place finished chicken in warm oven until entire batch is done. Serve to soon-to-be-impressed-and-full crowd.
We always serve ours with lemon wedges. Fresh lemon juice on a crispy chicken cutlet is heaven.