Sometimes the best things happen when your plans fall through. I think that probably applies to a lot of scenarios, but it’s definitely been true for me in the kitchen. I’ve learned how to make my own spice blends because I didn’t realize I was out of something, I’ve invented whole dinners out of random pantry ingredients, I’ve thrown together produce I might not otherwise have paired to save them from going bad, and who knows how many tricks I’ve tried and twists I’ve embraced because I just left work too late or the train was late or or I underestimated a recipe or whatever happened and I just didn’t have the time I needed to complete the original plan. Today was one of those days. I had planned a fish dish, but I couldn’t get to the store to get the fresh filets I wanted, and the day got away from me, so I had to decide on the fly if I was going to figure it out, or if I would order in. Top Chef’s on tonight, so I let myself be inspired to make it happen. I thought about what we had in the house, picked up some thin-cut chicken breasts at the store by the train, and re-meal-planned a dinner on my commute home. I got both a “this is really good,” and a “thank you for this yummy dinner, Momma,” within two bites – so, pat on the back – it worked! It’s not complicated or crazy, but simple, solid basics with beautiful delicious flavors can’t lose. There’s a decent amount of chopping required, but once that’s done, you’re about 10 minutes from serving. Weeknight magic right there. Here you go.
WHAT YOU NEED
for the salad
* 1 lime, juiced
* 1t apple cider vinegar
* 1t granulated sugar
* 1 mango, peeled and diced
* 1 small red bell pepper, diced
* 1/2C diced red onion
* 1/2C chopped fresh cilantro
* 1C black beans, drained and rinsed
for the chicken
* 1 – 1 1/2lb thin-cut chicken breasts
* Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
* vegetable oil
WHAT TO DO
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the lime juice, vinegar, and sugar. Add the rest of the salad ingredients and stir to combine. Set aside. (BTW, this salad would also work great with most mild fish, with tortilla chips and beer, with shrimp, with scallops, with steak…)
Prepare a dish with breadcrumbs. Prepare a serving plate with a layer or two of paper towels.
Heat the oil, about 1/8-inch deep, over medium heat in a high-sided skillet or everyday pan. When the oil begins to glisten, it’s warm enough. Lightly coat each piece of chicken in breadcrumbs and immediately place in the oil. Thin-cut chicken breasts take no time to cook through. Give them about 2-3 minutes on one side and another minute on the other. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate to absorb the excess oil and fry your next batch until all your chicken is ready.
Serve over seasoned or coconut rice and top with the mango salad.
Top Super Amateur Pretend Wannabe Professional Home Chef Master right here, people! WHAT??!!