I’m noticing a pattern among my favorite recipes: They're simple, don't require many hard-to-find ingredients, and store well. Sometimes I put in some extra effort, but for the most part, I cook because I'm hungry and busy.
Since I want to free up my week to focus on school, I cook on the weekends: During the week, I browse my favorite blogs for recipes. By Friday, I'm thinking of what I want to eat the following week, by Saturday, I'm buying groceries, and by Sunday, I’m cooking up a storm. I like visiting all the nearby grocery stores and making product and price comparisons (meat from Whole Foods, bread from Trader Joes, fish from Mitsuwa).
In the spirit of economy, efficiency, and flavor, I bring you a simple recipe that utilizes kitchen staples: bread, cheese, herbs, and chicken-Chicken with breadcrumbs! The word “breadcrumbs” evokes Shake ‘n Bake, greasy chicken parmigiana, and Mary Poppins’ pigeons (one which I’ve never tried, one which I haven’t had in ages, and one which I never want to try). But I hope this recipe banishes any sketchy associations because this dish, while simple, is delicious. It’s crunchy, has great flavor, and is low on fat. Consider it a healthy alternative to fried chicken.
The recipe is easily adjustable to your liking. I’ve included my measurements, but they are neither exact nor in rigid proportion. See my notes below for some thoughts on variations. At the least, though, I recommend you ensure that (1) you use good quality, dry bread (2) you add flavor to the breadcrumbs (whether it’s spices, herbs, or cheese) and (3) you do an adequate job coating the chicken. By the way, I prefer a very coarse crumb (no powder for me!), but you decide.
Following those guidelines, you can't go wrong. I hope you like it.
Chicken with Herbed Breadcrumbs
1 baguette (fresh or day-old)
Approx. 1 cup packed herbs
Approx. 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Optional: Minced garlic
Salt and pepper
4-6 chicken breast halves
2-3 eggs, whisked
1/3 cup flour
Food processor, baking sheet
- Bread to Toast* | Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice your baguette into 1/3-1/2" rounds. Arrange the rounds on a baking sheet, making sure they don't overlap. Drizzle some olive oil over the top. Bake until the bread is dry and toasty (Get it? Toasty?).
- Herbs | While the bread is toasting, add the herbs to the food processor and chop. Set the herbs aside in a bowl.
- Toast to Breadcrumbs | Remove the bread from the oven and rip the rounds into pieces. The pieces don't have to be tiny, maybe 1-1.5 inches. Add the pieces to the food processor and process until the bread turns into coarse crumbs. You may have to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your processor.
- Combine | Pour your breadcrumbs into a medium bowl. Add your herbs, the Parmesan, salt and pepper. Since Parmesan is already a bit salty, adjust your salt seasoning accordingly. [Optional: Add minced garlic]
- Coat Chicken | Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare 3 plates: Plate 1 with the flour; Plate 2 with the eggs, and Plate 3 with a copious amount of breadcrumbs. Dip the chicken in that order: flour, egg, breadcrumbs. The flour creates a dry base for the egg to adhere. Be sure to let excess egg drip off the chicken before coating in breadcrumbs. Use your fingers to press the breadcrumbs into the chicken, especially if you are using large, coarse crumbs like I did.
- Bake & Serve | Arrange the chicken in a baking dish so that they are not overcrowded. Bake for about 20 minutes, then let sit for a few minutes before serving. [This dish is best eaten while hot and fresh. A day later, the crumb gets moist and soft-still good, but not as crunchy.]
- Herbs: I used fresh herbs, but dried ones would work great, too. My mix was primarily basil, with some rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Use what you have and what you think goes well together!
- Bread: If you're using day-old bread that is already dry, you can omit step one of the recipe. Just process the bread into coarse crumbs. Also note you can use pretty much any kind of bread you like. I chose a baguette because I like the dense crust.
- Cheese: This recipe could easily use more cheese, but I wanted to keep the recipe on the lighter side.
- Marinade: You could marinate the chicken beforehand for more flavor, perhaps using yogurt or maybe even citrus. I’ve even seen recipes calling for mayonnaise.