STEP ONE: PREPARING THE PANKO CHICKEN
-I regularly prepare panko chicken because it’s relatively simple, satisfies that deep fried craving, and you can always store some in the freezer. Since they’re fairly thin, even when you bake or fry it from a frozen state, it’ll still cook evenly and quickly.
1)Rinse off each chicken breast and pat dry with a paper towel. Place on a cutting board and cut each breast through the middle into two thinner pieces (think a fillet of fish).
2) Season both sides of the chicken. Chicken meat is usually very accepting of different types of spices so you can try out different flavors using whatever you happen to have on hand.
REMEMBER: LESS IS ALWAYS BETTER WHEN YOU’RE JUST STARTING TO COOK. —If you under-season you can add more later or learn from it and know to add more next time. If you over-season however, you’re stuck with a plate of barely edible food that may turn you off from cooking again in the future.
-If you choose to use Cumin like I did, be very careful the first time you use it, cumin is a curry-like spice and a little dash of it goes a long way.
3) Get your panko breading station ready. From right to left – All-purpose flour, one lightly beaten egg, panko bread crumbs.
- Start by coating the chicken on both sides in the flour.
- Next, dip it into the egg bowl and let the excess drip off.
- Finally, press both sides into the panko bowl.
- Fully breaded and ready to cook! At this point, you can plastic wrap any extras and toss them in the freezer.
4) Line a baking tray with some tin foil and spray it down with Pam or a similar cooking oil spray. Alternatively, you could also brush on any other cooking oil you have on hand. The point is just to make sure the chicken doesn’t stick to the foil.
- Place into your oven preheated to 425 degrees and cook for about 20 minutes on each side, flipping once to ensure even cooking.
- This is when a meat thermometer comes in real handy, but since most college kids don’t have one, don’t be afraid to cut the chicken in half and check on it. (Just the first couple of times you prepare this dish, you should get a feel for the timing after that. You lose a lot of juicy goodness when you cut meat and then continue cooking it)…but it’s better to have slightly dry meat than raw chicken.
STEP TWO: DO-IT-YOURSELF SPICY MAYO/CHIPOTLE SAUCE
– This particular sauce tastes like the lovechild of spicy mayo and chipotle sauce….and it’s versatile to go on almost any meat. (Can’t wait for grilling season)
-Keep in mind that this is just a rough recipe for this sauce and I encourage you to be as creative as possible with it using the ingredients you have on hand. (But REMEMBER: you can always add seasoning but you can’t take it out after it’s mixed in)
- I started off with about a 30/70 Chili sauce/mayo ratio..but ended up balancing it around 50/50. Adjust to your own tastes. Mix in the chili, mayo, splash of Tabasco, pinch of salt, black pepper. I also chose to add a bit of cumin and smoked paprika for some depth of flavor.
- Next, finely chop a jalepeno and a few cloves of garlic
- Sometimes I’ll take the seeds out of the pepper so that it doesn’t get overly hot and you’re still guaranteed some spice.
- Heat up a small frying pan on medium-high heat and add olive oil. Let the jalepenos and garlic brown in the pan, but keep an eye on it because it can burn quickly. I let it sit until the garlic is a medium brown color..this will release a ton of flavor from the garlic/jalepeno.
- Mix it all up… if it’s not hot enough, add more chili sauce and/or red chili pepper flakes to kick it up a notch.
- Finish up the sauce by squeezing some fresh lime juice into it. (I only used a quarter of the lime, but it depends on how much sauce you’re making at once)
STEP THREE: BREAD
- Whenever I make these “manwiches” that are going to be overflowing with ingredients, I always always go with Ciabatta bread. Dissapointed I couldn’t find it at The Fresh Grocer in New Brunswick, but every other grocery store I’ve been to always has it. I love it because it’s heftier than most other breads so it won’t fall apart under a lot of sauce or lot’s of meat.
- With this bread, I always butter it up and toss it in the toaster oven for a few minutes. It’ll take care of itself while you finish preparing the other ingredients.
- Take a clove of garlic and cut off one end of it.
- Once the bread is done toasting, you can rub the raw garlic on it and you’ll get plenty of garlicky flavor without eating chunks of it.
- Optional: I chose to grate some leftover parmesan cheese onto the finished bread slices and then put it back into the toaster oven for another minute or two.
STEP FOUR: FINISHING UP!
- By this point, the chicken should almost be finished and you can saute the onions,mushrooms,and garlic.
- Pile the rest of the onions/mushrooms on top of this, press down a bit with the top bun just to make sure it holds….and you’re good to go!