Monday, August 27, 2012

Parmesan Ranch Chicken

Or in other words, Winner Winner Chicken Dinner.  In fact, that is what my sweet hubby named these pictures when he downloaded them.  This recipe is just a simple every day dinner, one that could be made any night of the week.  It does take a little bit of forethought as it does need to marinate for a little while before you grill it and there are 2 steps to the cooking process (I guess 3 if you count prepping it for cooking step #2) but it really is quick and easy to do and tastes great!  My kids all loved it, the grilled chicken was moist and tender and full of yummy flavour.  In fact even the marinated chicken itself without the topping was super good, and would be delicious sliced on top of a salad or a sandwich.  Something also needs to be said about the fact that it has Ranch dressing in it and I am not the biggest Ranch dressing fan, at least not the kind in the bottle and if it is in a bottle it HAS to be Hidden Valley.  In fact, Dal laughed at me when I said what was in it because I am a bit of a snob and don't like things made with salad dressing or canned soups.  I also really do hate Ranch most of the time.  This is not one of those times.  If you are a Ranch hater like me, TRY THIS.  You will be shocked and amazed and you may change your tune, or at least be willing to admit that it is not all bad.  
Make this chicken for your family - it will please your men and your kids will eat it and think you are the best cook around.    Plus, it is perfect for school nights since you can marinate the chicken during the day while the littles are at school and then just whip up the chicken come dinner time!

Parmesan Ranch Chicken
recipe adapted from Plain Chicken

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded even/flat but not thin


1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup ranch dressing
2-3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp white wine vinegar or you could do balsamic or plain white vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cloves minced garlic
touch salt and some cracks of pepper

Ranch Spread:

1/4 cup grated Parmesan (not the stuff int he green can, preferrably some real shredded park, either stuff you shred yourself or the pre-shredded stuff in the containers.  I buy mine from Costco shredded and use it all the time)
1/4 cup ranch dressing (as I said before, I like Hidden Valley, it doesn't have that gross taste that some other brands do

Parmesan Crumb Topping:

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon garlic salt or powder and a pinch of coarse salt which is what I did
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan (see above)
2 tablespoons melted butter

First, take your chicken breasts between pieces of wax paper and lighly pound them with a mallet or the bottom of a heavy frying pan/pot.  You are really just trying to get them an even thickness because they are really thin at the pointy end and thick at the rounded end and you want them to be more even so they cook better. Otherwise you will end up with undercooked at the thick end or dry crust tips with properly cooked moist chicken on the round end.  No good.  Take the 5 minutes and lightly even them out.  Don't go too crazy though, you don't want them paper thin.  Just make them the same as your pointy end.  Make sense?  No?  Moving on.
Make up your marinade.  Pour over the chicken and let sit for 2-3 hours turning a few times if possible. You could do it overnight too if you are super organized like that but I never am.  I did it mid afternoon and it was great!  
Next make up your Ranch spread.  Please use decent Ranch dressing and for the love of all that is good do NOT use parmesan from the green can.  It will give you hair in weird places and make your children grow additional limbs and cause crazy hallucinations.  Okay so not really but just do yourself a favor and don't do it.  Use the real stuff!  Put it in the fridge to sit until you are ready to use it.  
Make your crumb topping by melting the butter and mixing the other ingredients together and pouring the slightly cooled melted butter over top and mixing.  Leave it until you need it.  
Once you are ready light your BBQ and preheat.  Grill chicken over medium heat until cooked through.  This will take about 6 minutes a side.  I usually cook 3 minutes, turn 90 degrees and cook 3 more, flip and cook 3 and turn 90 again and cook last 3.  Take off once cooked through and place in a glass baking dish.  Bring inside and turn on broiler in your oven.  Spread each chicken breast with 1/4 of the ranch spread and top with 1/4 of the crumb topping.  Place dish under broiler with the rack in the middle to mid-high position and broil until the crumb topping turns a nice golden brown color.  This should take a few minutes, maybe 5 or so.  Keep checking it though - broilers have a tendency to get away from you and then dinner is burnt.  Who wants to waste all your hard work?  Don't walk away, just stay close by and check it often.
This is great served with whatever sides you like - we did mashed potatoes, balsamic grilled zucchini,  steamed broccoli and a nice salad.  

Go forth and cook, my pretties!

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