Chicken And Potatoes (And A John Boos Cutting Board)

Sometimes the best meal -- the one that hits the spot -- is the simplest. Whenever I make breaded chicken, I think about home. I remember my parents making it and serving it with some gravy made from one of those 85-cent powder packets for a quick meal (my siblings consider that "real" gravy -- just like they think Aunt Jemima is "real" syrup).

And now, when I want something quick, it's what I tend to make and is one of the few things I can make and improvise upon without a recipe. Sometimes I'll bread chicken and turn it into chicken parmesan; other times I'll have it plain; other times with gravy. On this particular night we had it with a few squeezes of fresh lemon, salad, and some lemon-rosemary potato wedges.

I had just received a new John Boos cutting board from KaTom Restaurant Supply and decided with all the chopping I needed to do to make the salad and potatoes that this would be a good night to break it out (and I suppose break it in).

At first glance, I thought the cutting board would be too small for my chopping needs, but that little board proved me wrong. It was just the right size for a pepper, or a head of lettuce, and even the pile of potatoes that needed to be made into wedges. And the board is so cute that I will definitely use it as a serving piece at my next party. It would be perfect for crackers and a selection of cheeses.

I made the potatoes first since they would take some time in the oven, and I figured I could make the salad and the chicken while they roasted and have everything ready at the same time.

I used a recipe for Crispy Roasted Potato Wedges with Parsley, Lemon, and Rosemary (minus the parsley) from Knives Cooks Love: Selection. Care. Techniques. Recipes.

First, I mixed chopped rosemary, minced garlic, and oil together in a medium bowl.

Then I washed some red potatoes and chopped them into wedges. I had never made wedge potatoes before because I don't like how I've had them in restaurants -- insides not fully cooked and the outsides not always crisp. It was my mission to cook these all the way through and maintain a crispy outside.

Once I had the potatoes all cut, I dumped them into the bowl and coated them with the olive oil mixture. Then I poured them onto a sheet pan lined with foil.

You have to make sure to lay them with a flat side down -- more surface area to crisp up. After roasting them for 25 minutes in a 450 degree oven, I flipped them all onto the other side and roasted them for an additional 15 minutes, following the recipe.

While they roasted, I made a salad -- chopping everything on my new cutting board...

...and breaded the chicken. This simply takes setting out a plate of flour; a bowl with two eggs, beaten; and a plate of breadcrumbs. My boyfriend pounded two chicken breasts while I set the breading station up. Pounding the chicken ensures that it will be about the same thickeness everywhere and thus cook more evenly. I dredged the pieces in the flour and then coated them with egg and breadcrumb.

Sometimes I bake these, but this time I cooked them on the stovetop since the potatoes were taking up the oven and chicken cooked in a pan comes out crispier than baked chicken anyways. I poured olive in a pan, heated it, and added a chicken breast, turning halfway through. Then I removed that one and cooked the next one. The pieces were a little too big to fit both in the pan at once, otherwise I would have cooked them simultaneously.

The potatoes and chicken were done at just about the same time. I removed the potatoes from the oven -- they were piping hot and very crisp -- and sprinkled lemon zest over them.

We had a delicious crunchy and citrusy dinner. It made me think of the better-for-you, much tastier homemade version of a horrible fast food meal -- like chicken nuggets and french fries. It was crunchy without oozing oils or having that deep-fried taste, and the lemon and herbs were refreshing.