Parent tip: Fade the radio to the back and crank it while you’re driving the carpool around town. They’ll have to shout to hear each other, and forget you’re even in the car. You can hear all of the gossip.
I don’t know if you know anything about a car full of fifth graders, but let me tell you, it is a wild ride. Listening to your kid talk to other kids is both hilarious and supremely annoying. Kid, you’re 11. You are not that cool.
But I get it. When you’re in those in-between preteen years, you just want to be thought of as older, wiser, better. I know because while I may be Ms. Laid-Back-Mom today, I was the prissiest, most high-maintenance, know-it-all preteen there was. I had the highest GWAM in the class (and made sure everyone knew it). I wore my hair twisted into tightest bun possible, ironed my flared jeans with a sharp crease. Oh and I would correct your grammar to your face. I was, in fact, the worst.
My prissiness extended to my food preferences. I didn’t eat “kid food” like peanut butter or pancakes. If it were up to me, every meal would be eaten at Macaroni Grill, the ultimate in everyday fancy. I could order from a menu of my favorites like fried calamari, baby spinach salad with sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives, or farfalle swimming in an asiago cream sauce. I could practice my signature on the paper tablecloths and learn Italian from the recordings when I went to the bathroom. Basically, what I thought was so ~grown up~ was really just peak 90s.
But now that I am actually grown up, here is what I know about fancy: it is extremely easy to fake it.
Which brings us (finally) to this chicken with burrata, leeks, and breadcrumbs. We’re taking a cue from 1998 and faking it til we make it. This simple one-pan chicken dinner is gussied up with a few faux-fancy friends and invited to the extremely sophisticated party in your belly.
You know how you have that one old Target maxi dress you can throw on and people will be like, “OooOOOooooH you’re so fancy!” and you’re like, “I literally just threw this on it is one piece I did nothing.” That is burrata. If you serve people burrata they will freak out and you will win with zero work on your part other than just buying the thing.
Burrata is essentially a ball of fresh mozzarella filled with cream. When you cut into it, it’s lush insides ooze out without needing to be melted first. It is perfect as-is. But I cannot just post “plate burrata” as a recipe (even though that’s what restaurants do for $15???). And we should probably eat more than just cheese for dinner. (Thought I have 100% texted my friend “just ate a ball of burrata dinner” more than once.)
And so we’ll blanket it across chicken breasts and snuggle it up with some butter-softened leeks, and shower the whole thing with toasty breadcrumbs. The cheese warms slightly but still maintains its cool creaminess, while the leeks shine in their subtlety. A perfect Thursday night dinner on that first warm spring night.Print
This easy one-pan chicken dinner is the perfect springtime meal, and a lot easier than it’s ingredients suggest.
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, OR 2/3 cup panko
1 1/2 pounds thin chicken breast cutlets (I used six)
2 large leeks
1 tablespoon butter
1-8 oz. ball of burrata cheese
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the breadcrumbs, season well with salt and pepper, and stir it all to combine. Cook until toasted, stirring to make sure they don’t burn. Panko will toast quickly, in3-5 minutes, while fresh breadcrumbs will take 5-8 minutes.
Meanwhile, dry your chicken with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Once the breadcrumbs are toasted, remove to a bowl and set aside to cool slightly. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel. (It doesn’t need to be super clean, you just want to avoid any errant crumbs in the pan or they’ll burn.) Heat half of the remaining oil in the pan until quite hot. Cook half of the chicken to avoid crowding your pan, about three minutes a side or cooked through. Remove to a serving platter and repeat with remaining oil and chicken.
While the chicken cooks, prep your leeks. Cut off the roots, then cut off the white and light green section from the dark green tops. Discard the tops (or save for stock). Cut the white section in half lengthwise, then into quarter inch slices. They’ll probably be quite sandy (leeks are grown in loose soil) and need to be washed–I like to use my salad spinner.
Once the chicken is done cooking, turn the heat down to medium-low and add the butter. Once melted, stir in the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and let cook gently for 5-8 minutes, until they’ve started to soften and have released some liquid. Remove the lid, and give it all a good stir, making sure to scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat back up to medium and cook for another five minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated and the leeks are cooked through and soft.
While the leeks do their thing, chop a couple of tablespoons of fresh parsley and stir it into the breadcrumbs.
Once everything is ready, tear the ball of burrata open over your chicken, spreading its goodness all over. Spoon the leeks over the cheese, and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over everything. Serve immediately.