Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Ratatouille
“I’m locked up, they won’t let me out. Oh, they won’t let me out. Can you please accept my phone calls? They won’t let me out. ‘Cuz I’m locked up, locked up, locked up.” -Akon
Last night, I decided to cook my roommate a special meal. I could say that this is because I am an incredibly thoughtful roomie and generally a slave to my domestic instincts, but I won’t insult your intelligence. The truth is, I kinda owed Bay one after accidentally locking her in the apartment yesterday. Nothing says “I’m sorry I made you three hours late for work” quite like parmesan-crusted chicken with ratatouille. It was delicious. I’m almost positive she’s forgiven me…
I would like to preface this story by saying that buildings in France are tricky. First of all, in order to leave pretty much any building you have to press a button to unlock the door. I often forget this fact and end up pulling/pushing on door handles for a while before some Parisian deigns to remind me of the magic button. My apartment adds insult to injury by requiring my roommate and I to lock the door from both the inside and the outside. Therefore, one requires a set of keys to LEAVE the apartment. Since both my roommate and I have our own sets of keys, this is not usually a problem.
However, I’m not exactly a morning person. On days when I have early class, I need to be out the door by 7:30 am at the latest. This is always a struggle, to say the least. This past Monday morning was no exception. I was running late, forgot to make coffee, and I wasn’t overly fond of my outfit. In my haste to get to school and make rooster with blood sauce (I wish I was kidding), I simply grabbed the keys that were in the door, and locked the apartment on my way out.
After a lovely morning of dealing with rooster carcasses and pig’s blood, I wasn’t in the greatest mood. However, I perked up a little when I saw that I had two missed calls, an email, and several texts. Can you say popular? They were all from Bay. Apparently, the keys in the door were hers. Not knowing where my keys were, she had been locked in the apartment for the past three hours. OOPS. Luckily, I remembered which purse I had left my keys in, so she was able to get out of the apartment and arrived at work just in time to go to lunch. Great success!
Note: “My roommate locked me in the apartment,” is the twenty-something’s version of, “My kids are sick.” Get on board.
Preparing your vegetables:
-Wash the eggplant, zucchini, and bell pepper well, and peel the onion.
-Chop the vegetables into small cubes (approximately 1 square cm).
-Peel and seed the tomatoes and then cut them into cubes.
*Chef’s trick: To peel the tomatoes (or EPLUCHER les tomates), simply plunge them into boiling water for thirty seconds. Remove them from the boiling water and rinse them with cold water. The skin should peel away from the tomato flesh easily with your fingers or a knife.
Cooking your vegetables:
-Heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan and then add the bell pepper and onion on high heat. These take the longest to cook.
-After about five minutes, add the zucchini. Move the pan to low heat and let the vegetables cook.
-In a separate pan heat 3 tbsp of olive oil and add the eggplant. The eggplant needs to cook separately in a significant amount of oil because it is very dry and needs to absorb the oil so that it will have the same texture as the other vegetables.
-When the eggplant is cooked (it should be very tender), add it to the other vegetables.
-Add the diced tomatoes to the vegetables, and cover the pan with a lid. Let the vegetables simmer on low heat for at least 20 minutes (you can leave them simmering for much longer if necessary).
-Salt and pepper to taste!
*This recipe is the tits. Its easy, delicious, and healthy. WINNING!
Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Breasts: (Serves 4)
Cooking your chicken:
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
-Bring the chicken stock to a simmer (a gentle boil) in a large pot. Submerge the chicken breasts in the stock and let cook for 8-10 minutes.
-Mix the breadcrumbs with the parmesan cheese in a small bowl and add the milk. The mixture should be slightly dense.
-After 8-10 minutes, remove the chicken breasts from the stock and place them in a baking pan. Pour about 3 cups of the chicken stock into the baking pan. (This will keep the meat from drying out in the oven.)
-Cover the top of each chicken breast with a ½ inch layer of the parmesan mixture and press down firmly.
-Put the chicken in the oven until the parmesan crust turns a golden brown. This usually takes about 5 minutes. If you have a broiler, use it! It should take about a minute to get that crust brown. It took me about 15 minutes because I do not understand the symbols on my french oven. There are a bunch of dotted lines and straight lines and fan symbols. But I pulled it off in the end, as will you!
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