So, I arrive on Tuesday night (last week, this post is a little overdue), and the next day I go to the City (I’m staying in New Jersey). And I’m walking around, and I bust my knee. I did something to it in Naples – probably hiking those hills in the wrong shoes – and thought walking should still be fine, but no. I was in agony and had to hobble back to the bus station.
This upset interfered with my plans to explore New York as much as possible. My aunt put me on house (ar)rest, and I obliged with resignation. I had no choice, I could barely stand, let alone walk. I am a terrible patient, especially when I can’t move around, but the past few days have been a valuable lesson in patience and accepting your circumstances when they’re out of control.
It also gave me the perfect opportunity to work on my blog, and also to experiment with a twist on the classic toasted sandwich, which is one of my favourite meals in the world to make at home. Since cleaning up my diet as well, I have been working on making this humble item healthy and satisfying. Enter the Monte Cristo! Here is my version (and first attempt) of this awesome sandwich, which is made protein-rich by the egg custard mix which you dip it into before frying. I LOVED this, and it brightened up my day when I was stuck inside with a hot pad on my knee (I had to hobble around as I made this, but hopefully this is an indication of how easy and quick it is to make).
Chicken Parmigiana Monte Cristo
You will need:
- 2 slices rye bread (my preference as it has more flavour and is healthier, but it’s your choice)
- 1 small chicken breast, cooked (see below for the recipe I used – I found it online and it’s brilliant)
- 1 spoonful of tomato sauce (the pasta sauce kind)
- A couple of slices of cheese (I used smoked provolone and a bit of taco mix cheese I found in the fridge – you could use good mozzarella or fior di latte, or whatever you like)
- Salt and pepper to season
- 1 egg, beaten
- Butter, to fry
1) Cooking your chicken breast
If you already know how you like to cook your chicken, all well and good. If not, then I’d recommend this recipe – dead easy and quick, with some wait/resting time in between:
1a) Rinse your chicken breast and then soak it in a bowl of salted warm water for about 15-20 minutes. This helps to tenderise it. Rinse off the breast and pat dry with a paper towel.
1b) Rub the breast with some melted butter. You just need a small amount – I melt a sliver in the microwave and then rub it on with my hands.
1c) Rub the following dry seasoning onto the breast (all over): salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika (smoked or normal – I only have normal right now but smoked would taste good, too). Tip: keep the salt low because the garlic powder will have its own saltiness.
1d) Cook the breast in the oven at about 230 C/GM 8/450 F for about 15-20 minutes until cooked (the juices should run clear from the breast when pierced)
1e) Let the breast rest for 15-20 minutes. I wrap it in the foil and let it rest in the oven
Making the sandwich
- Have your fillings ready and in line, and assemble the sandwich in the frying pan, otherwise you’ll have to fiddle with dipping the bread in egg whilst keeping the filling in place. So you’ll dip one slice of bread in egg, place it in the frying pan, then put your fillings on top (if you’re applying a spread, put that on one side of the bread before you dunk the other side in egg so the spread side is face up in the frying pan). Place the second slice of bread on top, and then flip it to cook the upper side.
- Season the egg mixture with salt and pepper, even mustard, paprika etc. I didn’t use any seasoning when I made it, and it was lacking a little something.
2) Spread pesto on one side of one slice of bread, and spread tomato sauce on the other slice of bread. Dunk the nkn-spreaded sides of both slices in the beaten egg mixture. I didn’t add milk to the egg mix, and 1 egg was enough for two slices of bread.
3) Heat some butter in a frying pan (you don’t need much) on a medium heat. Place one slice of bread egg-dunked side down into the frying pan.
4) As the bread heats, work quickly to place your fillings on top of the bread: sliced chicken breast and the sliced cheese. Place the other slice of bread on top, tomato sauce side down, and press down gently with the spatula. Flip it so that the upper side of bread is now touching the frying pan.
5) Cook for a few minutes until the other side is browned.
6) Slice and enjoy the gooey yet healthy goodness! This is protein-rich, refined ingredient-free (if you use rye bread and good quality cheese), and absolutely delicious! A perfect quick evening meal which you can have with a side salad or sweet potato fries.