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Ask Eric: Simple recipes cheaper than fast food

Q I have some chicken fillets in the freezer and would like to know the best way to use them, not spicy. Julie Campbell AChicken fillets are boneless, tender strips of meat located near the centre of the breast.

Q I have some chicken fillets in the freezer and would like to know the best way to use them, not spicy.

Julie Campbell

AChicken fillets are boneless, tender strips of meat located near the centre of the breast. Poultry processors remove and package them separately. They are sold at most supermarkets.

Their long shape makes them ideal for seasoning, skewering and grilling. I have used them in chicken satay -Southeast Asianstyle chicken skewers served with peanut sauce.

I've also used them to make souvlaki; after cooking, I slid the chicken off the skewer and onto a pita with tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and pitted olives.

Homemade chicken strips is a favourite dish in my house. It is easy to do.

You coat the chicken lightly in mayonnaise, then coat it in breadcrumbs and bake.

I like Italian flavours, so I mix the breadcrumbs with oregano, basil and Parmesan cheese, and serve a sauce for dipping.

Serve chicken strips with Caesar salad, or put four or five strips atop a warm, crusty bun that has been split and spread with pesto and mayonnaise. Add lettuce and a slice of mozzarella cheese on your bunwich. Serve a spicy pasta sauce alongside for dipping. Send your question to Eric by email at eakis@timescolonist.com or by regular mail to Ask Eric, Times Colonist, 2621 Douglas St., V8T 4M2.

ITALIAN-STYLE CHICKEN STRIPS

Tender chicken coated in herb-and cheese-flavoured breadcrumbs.

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes Makes: 4 servings

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 tsp ground oregano

1/2 tsp ground basil

1/2 tsp salt

- pinch cayenne pepper

3/4 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

20 chicken breast fillets

- olive oil

- hot tomato-based pasta sauce to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush the top of the parchment lightly with olive oil. Place the mayonnaise, oregano, basil, salt and cayenne in a bowl and mix to combine. Combine the breadcrumbs and cheese in a wide, sided plate. Place the chicken in the bowl with the mayonnaise and toss to coat. Coat the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture, gently pressing the breadcrumbs on to help them adhere. Set the chicken in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn each piece of chicken over and bake for 10 minutes more, or until cooked through and golden. Serve the chicken strips with pasta sauce for dipping.

Q Hello Eric, two recipes if you can help please. 1. How to make Greek potatoes. 2. A recipe for making polenta, the Italian dish using cornmeal.

Wendy Appleyard

AIf you've ever had roast potatoes in a Greek restaurant, you'll know that these tender spuds have a texture somewhere between those of simmered and roasted potatoes. That's because they are cooked in the oven in a flavoured liquid, which in my recipe includes chicken stock, olive oil, lemon, garlic and herbs.

Polenta is a more complicated subject. When I began to look into it, I found so much information on its long history and many cooking methods, I decided to write an entire column about it, with three recipes for Wendy. It will be published Wednesday, April 13.

GREEK-STYLE ROAST POTATOES

Lemon-, herb-and garlicflavoured potatoes to serve alongside things such as roast lamb, chicken souvlaki or fish.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 75-80 minutes

Makes: 4-6 servings

2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and quartered lengthwise (about 6-7 medium potatoes)

3/4 cup chicken stock or broth

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp paprika

2 garlic cloves, minced

- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 375 F. Place the potatoes in 9-by 13-inch baking dish. Place the remaining ingredients, except parsley, in a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture evenly over the potatoes. Roast, uncovered, turning and basting the potatoes with pan juices occasionally, for 75 to 80 minutes, or until potatoes are golden and tender enough to be easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. eakis@timescolonist.com

Eric Akis is the author of the recently published Everyone Can Cook Slow Cooker Meals. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.