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Cut Time With Chicken Cutlet

December 05, 1996|MARIE SIMMONS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The perfect food for the busy cook is not one that comes in a box and tastes like it. I think it's a skinless and boneless chicken cutlet. Versatile, fast-cooking, neatly packaged by your friendly grocer, the cutlets even defrost quickly if you forget to take them out of the freezer well ahead.

Chicken cutlets are different from simply boned and skinned breasts. The cutlet is flatter and weighs less (about 1/4 pound), because usually that tiny strip of meat, called the fillet or the "tender," located just under the breast meat, has been removed. Then the breast is either pounded or filleted, which makes it thinner.

Every time I think there can't possibly be another recipe for chicken breasts, one comes to mind. Mostly these are the result of what I have on hand in the refrigerator or kitchen cupboard. This is the case with the recipe that follows. The grocery list for this recipe is very short: chicken cutlets, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. Served with a green vegetable, it is a filling main course. It is also great on toasted bread and served as a sandwich.

For dessert, serve apples and pears that have been cored and cut into wedges. Line them up on a platter and let everyone nibble. Good store-bought oatmeal cookies would be delicious served with the fresh fruit.

Simmons is the author of the newly released "Fresh & Fast" (Chapters Publishing, 1996).

CHICKEN CUTLETS WITH SAUTEED MUSHROOMS AND MELTED MOZZARELLA

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 chicken cutlets, pounded thin

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 (10-ounce) box white button mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup diced red or green bell pepper

1 clove garlic, crushed

4 thin slices mozzarella cheese (about 3 ounces)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet. Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Add to hot oil and cook over high heat 2 minutes per side. Remove chicken to dish.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to skillet. Add mushrooms and bell pepper and cook, stirring, over medium heat, 8 minutes, or until mushrooms are lightly browned. Stir in garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and cook 1 minute more.

Return browned chicken breasts and any juices to skillet. Place 1 slice mozzarella cheese on top of each. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until cheese melts, about 3 minutes. Spoon mushroom mixture up over chicken and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

264 calories; 212 mg sodium; 66 mg cholesterol; 16 grams fat; 5 grams carbohydrates; 25 grams protein; 0.58 gram fiber.

GREEN BEANS WITH RED PEPPER AND GARLIC OIL

1 pound green beans, stem ends trimmed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

Cook beans in large pan of boiling salted water until tender-crisp, about 8 minutes. Drain and wipe pan dry.

Add oil to pan along with red pepper flakes and garlic and saute over low heat until garlic begins to sizzle. Add beans and toss to coat and heat through.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

62 calories; 6 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 7 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 1.13 grams fiber.

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