And that, sir, is no Chicken Milanese.

It was not really Chicken Milanese.

Then again, I didn’t expect it to be.

Nor did I expect it to be a “mindful choice,” as the menu suggested. A mindful choice would have been to go home and make oatmeal for dinner.

But it was late, there was traffic, and I was hungry. So I committed the sin of…eating at a chain restaurant.

As a rule, I do not eat at chain restaurants for one reason: the food is god-awful terrible bad.

And I am being kind.

My Chicken Milanese, for example, arrived as two orange-colored pieces of chicken, with a foul, Windex-flavored, soppy-wet salad poured on top. There was a triangle of orange something-or-other (maybe bread?) on the side, and it was all covered with a heavy coating of plastic cheese flakes.

It was billed as “comfort food of the highest order, based on a cooking style that celebrates the most perfect of human activities—gathering together with friends and family to share a meal of indescribable flavor and delight.”

OK, maybe if you hate your friends and family.

Truthfully, the real Chicken Milanese IS an amazing meal. Here is a recipe:

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups (packed) baby arugula leaves (about 2 ounces)

Using meat mallet or rolling pin, flatten chicken between sheets of plastic wrap to thickness of 1/2 inch. Whisk eggs in medium bowl to blend. Mix panko, 2 tablespoons parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper on plate. Dip chicken in beaten eggs; turn to coat. Dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating completely. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and sauté until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plates; sprinkle with lemon juice. Toss arugula with remaining 1 tablespoon oil in medium bowl to coat; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mound salad atop chicken.

This is what I ate last night:

chicken breast
salt
dextrose
maltodextrin
yeast extract
flavoring
lactic acid
hydrolyzed corn gluten
autolyzed yeast extract
partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil and soy oils
iceberg lettuce
romaine lettuce
balsamic vinegar
water
sugar
garlic
xanthan gum
spice
caramel
propylene glycol alginate
calcium disodium EDTA
paprika
onion
tomatoes
panko bread crumbs
olive oil
carrots
red cabbage
pasteurized sheep’s milk
cheese cultures
enzymes
anti-caking agent
calamata olives
pasteurized part skim milk
powdered cellulose
basil
black pepper
salt
sulfites
MSG
other preservatives

I knew better. But it was my choice.

I ate the meal with my head bowed in penance, because the real sin was not my decision to dine at a chain restaurant. The real sin is that we, collectively, tolerate this.

• • •

For more on healthy eating and good food choices, please consider reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver or Food and Healing by Annemarie Colbin. Both of which can be purchased here.

Digital photo art “Chicken” by Jen Payne, ©2010.

Real Chicken Milanese recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit magazine.

2 Responses

  1. TJB Googins

    amen, sister – i am amazed by what we allow ourselves to ingest – they really don’t care about what they put in the food, they only care that we buy it – and by “they” i mean the corporate royalty that run our world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.