Stanislavski says "An Actor Prepares."
The Boy Scouts say "Be prepared."
And, Lettuce Entertain You, the restaurant conglomerate in Chicago tells its servers, "Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance."
Well, the same holds true for teachers...and their daily lunches.
When one thinks of cafeteria food, visions of rotund, ashen-faced, hairnet-clad ladies donning grey uniforms and white aprons scooping out globs of mystery substances onto sectioned trays dance in one's head. Fortunately, this is not the case at my school. These unsung heroes of culinary and nutritional fortitude are a vital part of our school community and genuinely enjoy working with our students. Daily, they offer up a wide variety of choices of entrees with a wink and a smile.
That being said, like many institutions facing the challenge of feeding 600 plus people daily, they rely on a food service which provide many items semi-prepared or in ginormous bulk quantities. They also have to stay within a budget. It's fun to watch the progression of food throughout the week. Inevitably Monday's grilled cheese sandwiches become Wednesday's croutons on the salad bar. In college, I had to suffer through the strange journey from Sausage and Pepper Hoagies to Sausage Pizza Soup.
No offense to the Lunch Ladies, but in order to stay true to my creed, "Food is not Feed," I bring my lunch to school each day. This is wear the Scouts, Stanislavski, and Rich Melman come into play.
Each Sunday I set aside a couple of hours to do some prep work for the week, so that, when I finally return home from work 8:00, I am able to put together a tasty lunch that doesn't come out of a box or off a truck. The menu changes weekly. I usually make a dressing or two, or perhaps I'll make a pesto. I may grill and marinate some veggies or make homemade beet chips as a slightly healthier option for my love of potato chips. But I always prepare chicken breasts to use throughout the week.
This week I will show you how to transform your regular ol' chicken breasts into tasty, mostly healthy lunches.
The Perfect Chicken Breast
8 chicken cutlets
Chili oil (recipe follows)
A boatload of paprika
Heat oven to 400. Drizzle chicken cutlets with oil and season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Turn those suckers red! Heat two oven safe skillets (I use a cast iron skillet and a grill pan) over medium high heat. Once hot, place chicken seasoned side down. While chicken sears, generously season the other side. After five minutes, flip chicken and transfer to the oven. Roast in oven for 13 minutes.
Allow to cool and place in a container and refrigerate.
You now have chicken for the week.