What Do You Mean We Have No Panko???

Like most foodies, I love me some Food Network. Lately, my fave chef is Anne Burrell. I love her pure, unabashed enjoyment of the whole cooking and eating process. I love that she's not stick- thin. I love that her enthusiasm is contagious. And I love that she shares her restaurant-chef secrets. She did a pretty simple Chicken Milanese on Saturday morning's program that inspired last night's dinner.

I convinced myself that we had everything we needed for this easy recipe, but didn't actually check. Lesson learned. We had no
panko. Sure, normal or even Italian-seasoned bread crumbs would have sufficed, but panko would have given them that light crunch Chris and I love, so any way it came out would have been disappointing.

Nevertheless, we carried on. I butterflied two boneless, skinless chicken breasts and put them through what every chef I know calls "the standard breading procedure" - dip them in seasoned flour, then beaten egg, then bread crumbs, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to set. While they were in the fridge, Chris went about prepping the side dish.

For her side, Anne had done an escarole salad, but that would have meant a trip to the store. Figuring that lemon is a traditional flavor in Chicken Milanese, we decided on lemon green beans. That involved the simple act boiling trimmed green beans for four minutes in well-salted water and tossing them in a tablespoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon of lemon zest. Easy!

When it was time to cook the chicken, I covered the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil and waited patiently for it to heat. I gently placed the chicken in and let the oil do its thing, flipping once to make sure both sides were nice and brown (as Anne says, "Brown food is good!"). I squeezed a little lemon juice over the chicken and that was dinner.

Could it have been better? Absolutely. First, the lemon on both the chicken and the green beans made the dish just too lemony. Also, the chicken, although perfectly cooked if I may say so myself, had little flavor since I had used plain breadcrumbs. It just needed more seasoning, so much that we ended up dipping the pieces in barbecue sauce. Yes, it's true - not everything we cook is fabulous. But it only took about 1/2 hour, it was relatively wholesome even though we had pan-fried the chicken, and it wasn't the worst thing we've ever eaten. Nevertheless, panko is the first item on the grocery list now.

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