5 December 2009

Simplify Your Life with a Recipe for Baked Chicken Milanese with Spinach Salad

A Recipe for Baked Chicken Milanese with Spinach Salad

Enjoy the little things,
 for one day you may look back and realize 
they were the big things.

- Robert Brault

Like most middle-aged Canadians, I was raised in an era when “convenience foods”  surpassed “homemade.” (Never mind that our Italian neighbours were making their own salami's and wine and growing everything they needed in their gardens... and feeding the entire neighbourhood as well I might add). Our own lives growing up were just not like that.

There didn’t seem to be anything wrong with convenience as a way of cooking. Doesn't macaroni and cheese come out of a box? A box of instant fettucini alfredo was a quick and convenient way to add a quick dinner to the table. Tasty enough, creamy, and salty. It would curb your craving for something more substantial and cure your pangs of hunger. Throw together a quick salad, add a bottled salad dressing and you’ve got yourself a nice meal...at least in the day.

As time marches on your body tells you that you need to simplify your lifestyle and move away from the convenience foods. It will rebel in your middle years and all those prepared and packaged dinners from a can, box or freezer will accumulate on your hips..not to mention all the preservatives and additional salt!!!!!But I will get off my soap box now as in my adult life I have never cooked with convenience foods. (But...shhhh.... I do make cakes from a boxed mix...our little secret). It is so easy to prepare healthy, quick and delicious meals there is no need to make convenience foods your meals of choice.

 The other influencing factor in our lives has come from society as a whole. Slowly, we are becoming a nation of foodies. Our grocers and markets are making it easier for us to shop with our health in mind as we as consumers demand high quality and less packaging. Finding the freshest ingredients has became the trendy thing to do. Words like “artisanal” and “locally sourced” have creeped into our day-to-day conversation. We have all heard of the 100-Mile Diet, Slow-Food, and being a "locavore". Eating simply does not mean giving up taste, it just means preparing uncomplicated and purer flavours.

 With the holiday season upon us it is understandably harder to simplify our eating habits, with rich sauces, gravies, chocolate and butter calling us at every turn. But then again why do we need to.We poke, we prod and we are determined to prepare meals fit for kings and queens. The old saying "everything in moderation" has never rung so true as it does during the holidays. The holiday season is a time of excess, at least in food, so why not go for it and and serve the best we can.  What we CAN do is to simplify our day to day meals... besides who has time to make elaborate gourmet meals each and every day during the holidays...unless you are a caterer and do it for a living.

This is where this simple and tasty oven baked chicken dish comes in. Chicken Milanese (literally, chicken in the style of Milan) is a chicken breast that has been butterflied and lightly flattened out, dipped in beaten egg, then into breadcrumbs and fried in butter. In the spirit of "lightening up" our dishes and making them healthier in this rendition you toast the breadcrumbs in the oven for extra flavour and then bake the chicken instead of frying. This superb dish is super-easy to make and packed with flavor. The breading is so light and so melt in your mouth good and makes the meat moist and tender. It's one of my favorite quick meals for a weeknight. Yes you use several dishes when constructing this meal but throw them in the dishwasher and turn it on! Add a light, fresh dressing of lemon juice and olive oil to your greens, top with shaved Parmesan and voila... another one bites the dust!!!!

** Baked Chicken Milanese with Spinach Salad**

1 1/4 cups plain dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/3 cup flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
course salt and ground pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges, for serving
5 ounces baby arugula or spinach
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
shaved Parmesan cheese curls for garnish

Preheat oven to 425F.

 On a rimmed baking sheet, toss breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup oil until well combined; spread on sheet. Bake, tossing once, until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Depending on the temperature of your oven there comes a point where you need to watch them carefully. Transfer to a medium bowl. Place flour and eggs in separate bowls; season with salt and pepper. Place a rack on another rimmed baking sheet.

 One at a time, place chicken breasts between two large pieces of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet or bottom of a small heavy pan, pound until 1/2 inch thick. Coat chicken on both sides with flour (shaking off excess), then dip in eggs (allowing excess to drip off); dredge in breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to adhere.

Bake chicken on rack, without turning, until opaque throughout, 10 to 15 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Add spinach or arugula and onion; toss. Top chicken with salad; serve with lemon wedges on the side.Top salad with shaved Parmesan and serve! The photo above is naked of Parmesan. What can I say I was in a hurry and forgot to add it for the photo opportunity...but it really adds that extra bit of flavour needed for this dish and adds an element of beauty as well.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. I totally agree with eat in moderation and healthfully! Your meal looks absolutely delicious!

  2. They , here, eat everyday milanese . I like it. in fact are delicious , but I eat one or maybe lees a month.I totally agree with you, moderation is the key

  3. I agree with you, foodies and most people we know have made the switch to healthier eating but on my last trip to the States the shopping markets were well stocked with all kinds of strange convience foods. Somebody is buying all that. Its getting better, but education is the key to healthier eating as an adult.

  4. I love this post. I feel like it rings so true for me. When I first started college, I was all about the microwave mac and cheese and ramen. Now, I am all about cooking with fresh flavors, trying to eat locally...I have turned into a foodie. And while being a foodie sometimes means whipping up complex and gourmet meals for special occasions, it also means nourishing my body with simple and easy foods on a day-to-day basis. You've got it exactly right with this recipe. Simple and delicious. And it doesn't come out of a box!

  5. Well said Val! Eating should be about fresh and local as opposed to convenience! Love the baked Chicken Milanese! So flavoursome!

  6. There are those that still buy into the quickness of convenience foods but it is just as easy to adopt a healthier attitude.Thanks guys.

  7. Good post! Fresh foods taste so much better anyway!

  8. We were fortunate enough to be raised on a farm. Fresh veggies all year long. My mom made homemade meals. I never had mac & cheese and to this day never tasted it. But my kids are exposed to convenience food and they did discover it at friend's house. So they love mac & cheese that comes from a box.

    Love the meal you prepared. Sounds so good.

  9. light and tasty, this is a perfect meal after the bricks of food that filled my stomach during thanksgiving. beautifully done, val!

  10. I grew up on a mix of homemade and convenience foods. We did eat boxed mac n' cheese. My dad liked it with ground sausage in it. I try not to buy much convenience food these days. I read the labels and see all of the crazy chemicals that are in there and have to put it back on the shelf.

    I love your chicken dish. Simple, healthy and delicious. Perfect!

  11. We love Milanese chicken and pork and beef in our house...but we definitely need to start baking it. I'm so glad that people are beginning to come around to the notion that home cooked meals are not cumbersome! Lovely post :)

  12. I was raised with mostly homemade but some convenience food. However, if I am cooking 9 out 10 times it is everything from scratch but being single and kidless allows me that luxury.

    Love this chicken dish especially for a quick meal.

  13. Looks perfect!oh I love Chicken.

  14. well u know grew up eating nothing but homemade! so food was always fresh and never senseless! as for moderation, it's important b/c it leaves you wanting more! :)

  15. Yum, I wasn't hungry before I stopped by here

  16. A great weeknight dish that makes one feel like they are really dining out.


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