When I was in fifth grade, my mom decided to pick up her career once again. After being a stay-at-home mom for several years, she started working full-time outside of the home.
She and my grandma had given me lots of time in the kitchen as their little helper, so I was very happy to do some preliminary tasks to help get the evening meal started before my mom got home from work. It was never anything major, just little chores like peeling potatoes or setting the table.
Sometimes my mom would plan baked chicken for dinner. She’d wash and trim chicken pieces and arrange them in a baking dish before she went to work. My job involved cutting up a stick of butter and sprinkling the little chunks over the chicken pieces, sprinkling it all with salt and pepper and, of course, some sweet Hungarian paprika. At precisely the right time, I would carefully slide the dish into the oven as directed.
Since I had such nice results with the recipe for Swiss Apple Pie Cake that I chose from an old church cookbook on my shelf, I pulled another book off the shelf to see what I could find for a chicken dish to serve with the Brown Rice and Veggie Bake that I made for my column this week. It was the St. Thomas Academy (Mendota Heights, Minnesota) Mothers Club Centennial Cookbook. It is a collection of favorite foods of past, present and future graduates of St. Thomas Academy at that time.
How could I pass up Grandma Lucy’s Italian Chicken? If an Italian grandma makes it, this chicken must be good. And besides, it reminded me of the chicken I used to help my mom make, with chunks of butter scattered over the top of the chicken pieces.
I adapted Grandma Lucy’s recipe a bit, using boneless and skinless chicken breasts. And, I couldn’t help myself from adding sweet Hungarian paprika. A little cayenne can’t hurt, either.
Grandma Lucy probably served her Italian Chicken with lots of spaghetti and her homemade tomato sauce. But I have to say, the baked chicken was quite delicious with Brown Rice and Veggie Bake.
I might try cutting chicken breasts into strips when my grandchildren are here next time and turn this recipe into chicken fingers. And serve it with fettuccine Alfredo, they’re favorite pasta dish. I’ll bet Grandma Lucy never did that.
Grandma Lucy’s Italian ChickenAdapted from St. Thomas Academy Mothers Club Centennial Cookbook
- 8 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 chubby clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs or cracker crumbs
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (more is you like heat)
- Olive oil
- 1/2 cup butter cut into small chunks
Trim chicken breasts, rinse and set aside.
In a bowl, mix all ingredients except olive oil and butter. Coat chicken breasts with crumb mixture. Place breasts in a well buttered baking pan with sides, leaving space between each breast. Sprinkle chicken with remaining crumbs. Drizzle each chicken breast with olive oil. Dot chicken with butter chunks. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 45 – 60 minutes or until chicken is baked through.