Sometimes, well, a lot of times, I make a chicken dish with a sauce. But every now and then there is no sauce necessary. Take, for instance, this Romano Chicken. I felt down in my soul that it didn't need a sauce. The baked chicken would be tender. The panko breadcrumbs would be crunchy. The Romano cheese would be slightly salty, slightly nutty. No sauce needed. Then I saw it...a lemon. An innocent little citrus fruit staring me in the eyes from the veggie drawer.
Begging to be included. Please use me, it said. I'm tasty, it said. I give a fresh little twist to a seemingly perfect dish, it said. Fine, I said. If only you will shut your little lemon mouth, I said.
But...the lemon was right. If only to make the little lemon put its hand down, begging to give the answer, I gave in and squeezed the lemon over this chicken. The lemon was right. Sure, it's still not a sauce, but it's something extra added on top. This Romano Chicken IS truly perfect by itself. But who defines perfection? Who says perfect is truly perfect and can't be improved upon? The lemon.
FOR THE CHICKEN MARINADE:
1 packet Good Seasons Zesty Italian dressing mix
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/4 C white wine vinegar
2 T Italian parsley, chopped
2 T green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Red chili flakes, to taste
FOR THE CHICKEN:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 C panko breadcrumbs
1 C Romano cheese, shredded
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon seasoned salt (like Lawry's)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
1/2 C shredded Mozzarella
Fresh basil chiffonades, if desired
For the chicken, whisk together the marinade ingredients. Place the chicken and the marinade in a large zipper bag and squish around to coat. Put the chicken in the fridge and marinate at least an hour.
Mix together the panko, Romano cheese, garlic powder, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and press into the panko mixture, making sure to coat both sides. Place the chicken on a baking sheet. Bake for about 28-35 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165 degrees. (Cooking time may vary depending on how thick the chicken is. A thermometer is the best way to determine if chicken is done).
Once chicken is done, sprinkle the Mozzarella over each chicken breast and return to the oven to melt. Remove the chicken from the oven and squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over each breast. Garnish with basil, if desired.