So there’s a culinary institute here and, based on what the students and alumni say, it’s a decent school and the job prospects afterwards are really good. That’s why I’m going to try to get into that school (although it’s a community college so there’s not really much to be unqualified for–I graduated from a university). While doing some more background research on this school, I saw that they had posted several recipes. I don’t know if they are originals or variations, but they say that those dishes are the ones that show up during class from time to time.
Naturally, I decided to try one, because might as well see what I’m up against, and get a head start on some of the lessons. I went through all of the recipes and decided that the Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Breasts were the easiest to start with. By “easiest”, I mean with the simplest ingredients to access and manageable instructions to work with.
I learned something valuable that probably ruined my risotto, since it was so full of greens: fresh parsley is NOT the same as dried parsley. The mistake wasn’t even thinking that I could substitute it because cooking it would somehow make it fresher because that’s totally the opposite of dried, as we’ve all learned in kindergarten; my thought process included the fact that it was still parsley. That’s it.
Okay, time to list my thoughts while making this actually-pretty-decent dish:
- Why are there so many greens involved in cooking? What’s “marjoram”? Does anyone else think of Harry Potter’s Aunt Marge when they read that?
- I don’t know what they mean by “flatten chicken breasts”. I mean, I do, but with what? A meat hammer? I just used my fingers to spread it out.
- It doesn’t say to do this, but I had to slice down the long side of each breast in order to fit the butter mixture and cheese. Just hoped that I wouldn’t actually cut through the poor thing. (I felt like a surgeon, being a Grey’s Anatomy fan and whatnot.) But no: the other side was still very much intact.
- Also, I wasn’t completely sure what they meant by “cut cheese into 1/2 oz. strips”. I mean, how do you weigh a slice of cheese? So instead, I cut the square slices in half and rolled those up.
- I thought it was going to be a struggle to keep the cheese inside the folds, especially with the butter, but it was actually sort of fun. I just made sure to keep the stuffed side down when I was done with them, hoping that gravity wouldn’t go against me and let the butter bleed through. I actually considered using pins, but I didn’t think I had something small enough to use on them. We have long wooden pins, but those are for measuring bread to see if they’ve been baked through.
- How do you administer bread crumbs evenly around a piece of raw meat? The beginning was fine. But as I kept going, it got harder to avoid clumps, even as I washed my hands between each piece.
- Okay, so the recipe specifically says to bake for 30 minutes, basting occasionally. What I did was bake for ten minutes, three times, so I could baste in-between. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s why this took so damn long to make. My parents got a bit impatient so they wanted a salad appetizer first, which I made during these ten-minute increments. Fortunately, I’m getting much better at salads, so staring at the recipe didn’t hold me back; it’s just picking ingredients and chopping.
- And, uh…I don’t know–is this normal? Comment if you see it. Just for fun.
- I had to cut all the ingredients in half, but ended up having to create another batch of the butter mixture. It didn’t take much to make it. I mean, it was just butter and wine (I didn’t add the extra greens). I didn’t use a measuring cup this time, because it was the rest of the wine, so I figured, whatever. It’s just for basting.
I thought the chicken was lonely so decided to add white rice. It’s weird, right? But I’m still trying to learn the ropes in this adventure, so bear with me here.
Before I officially sign off, something hilarious happened at dinner: my dad thought his chicken was defective and that I’d forgotten that cheese center. He was more than halfway through the chicken breast and he still didn’t cross paths with the cheese. I absolutely knew that I put cheese in all three pieces, so it was there. Then, he gave me one last chance: “Okay, I’m about to cut off another piece. If this one doesn’t have any cheese, I’m done eating it. Got it?”
I said go ahead and as soon as he cuts it off, guess what we find at the center of that piece. It was like a Cinnabon that aliens had abducted and conducted shrinking experiments on! So adorable!
I mean, look at it! Okay, it doesn’t look like a Cinnabon, but his did.
Anyways, give this recipe a shot, but make sure you find some sides that go along with it. Salads, fried vegetables, mashed potatoes, whatever you want.