Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

RECIPE: Herbed Chicken Breasts with a Crispy Black Olive and Parmigiano Crust

Sometimes, when I put up these recipe posts, I feel a little guilty. See, I put up these recipe posts, but I don't have corresponding posts for what I eat every other night. So it may seem as if I am just cooking lovely meals from scratch all the time.

Um, no.

I like to cook, but people, I am a lawyer. I work all day long. I may not work the crazy hours that some attorneys do--I also make about 1/3 their salary--but I still get home at around 6:45 at the earliest most of the time. Cooking from scratch is just not something I'm prepared to do every day. In addition, while I love a home cooked meal, or an interesting, exotic, chef-created masterpiece, I have to say that most of all I love ... ingredients.

Yup. Most of what I eat is just "ingredients." I have been told my meals are like elementary school lunches. Okay, I can't argue with that. I took my lunch to work today in a brown paper bag. It was a salad of mixed greens with olive oil and vinegar and sea salt, a bunch of red seedless grapes and some trail mix. Okay, so it's a bit grade school lunch.

I only really cook a "for reals" meal about once or twice a week. I also eat out probably once or twice a week. So when I do cook, I like to go all out and make a nice meal for myself and my husband that we can enjoy with a glass of wine. I'd like to say we light some candles and eat around the dining room table, but really we eat in our living room and watch TV like any other night. Some things are just not going to change. We love TV.

So recently for dinner, I pulled out a recipe from the Feb./March issue of Fine Cooking and made it. It's a breaded and baked chicken that is also coated in other flavorful ingredients to make it into a fried chicken alternative that is crispy and yummy. You can easily substitute to make different sauces and different coatings for different chicken flavors. I chose an Italian-inspired recipe and paired it with some broccoli in olive oil and garlic, and a cous cous salad with feta and peppers. Ideally you would want a Chianti or something Italian with this, but we already had a burgundy open, so that's what we drank with it.

RECIPE: Herbed Chicken with a Black Olive & Parmigiano Crust by Tony Rosenfeld (Fine Cooking #84) (adapted to serve 2)

  • 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6-7 oz. each), trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup toasted breadcrumbs (see below)
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (about 3 large tomato halves; pat dry before chopping)
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into wedges
Heat oven to 450. Put a rack on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.

Lightly pound the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap to even out the thickness of the breasts.

Mix oil and mustard with half of the thyme, half of the rosemary, and salt and pepper. Toss chicken in the mixture until coated well. (If you are making this ahead, you can now let it marinate for up to 24 hours, or you can just move on).

Put the bread crumbs into a large shallow dish and toss with the olives, parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes and remaining thyme and rosemary. Transfer chicken breasts to dish of crumbs and coat, pressing well so that the crumbs really stick. Place the chicken breasts on the rack on the baking sheet.

Bake chicken until firm and registering 165 on an instant-read thermometer, about 20 min. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over chicken.


  • About 1/4 lb. fresh white bread, preferably firm country loaf (should get 2 cups coarse crumbs)
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil or melted unsalted butter
  • Pinch kosher salt
Tear or cut bread into 1-2 inch pieces. Put into food processor. If it doesn't all fit, do this in two batches. Pulse into coarse crumbs (largest pieces should be size of small peas). Pour crumbs into a mixing bowl. Repeat is necessary until all pread has been "crumbed" and is in the bowl.

Toss crumbs with olive oil or butter and salt. Set a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring or tossing often until they start to color and crisp, about 5 min. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook, stirring, until crumbs dry out and crisp and are nicely browned, about 6 min.

Let cool. Once cool you can use immedately or store in an airtight container for later use.


My image of you is shattered. I envisioned you to arrive home on a Monday evening and whip up a beef wellington while still in your Manolos. Of course, Tuesdays you put out more effort and make something nice.

I have the luxury of arriving home early so I cook the meal and love to sit down at the dining room table and talk. Mi amore, however, arrives home very late and only wants to plunk down in front of the TV. I don't blame him, but I do sometimes miss conversations over dinner.

said by Acme Instant Food at 11:01 AM Delete

Great timing -- the orange version of this recipe is on my menu for this evening, so I was pleased to read your story -- it looks like it turned out great!

said by Culinarily Curious at 2:47 PM Delete

This will totally come in handy as I'm always looking for a new way to dress up chicken meals. The pics make my mouth water so much. Thanks a mill!

said by Aubrey at 3:58 PM Delete

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