Dinner Disaster for Four – Sofia Milunovich

Posted on January 24, 2013

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lemon dijon panko chicken1

lemon dijon panko chicken1

When you imagine your own cooking masterpieces, illusions of the sweet melody of happy groans fill the air accompanied by the self-satisfied smirk of the chef watching over her charmed audience. Naturally, they don’t involve a frazzled cook (if that’s what you want to call her), forced to mess up her hair in constant frustration, and the forced grins of her unsuspecting victims.

And they don’t usually involve broccoli that falls apart at the briefest touch, watery white rice that was supposed to be sticky, and chicken breasts, marginally covered by burnt Panko breadcrumbs that have the consistency of a hockey puck. Personally, for my elegant dinner, I had imagined a crisp; green vegetable seated on a perfectly formed cloud of stuck-together rice and golden, clearly edible chicken. Edible wasn’t exactly what I got, although I had high hopes.

The scene was set brilliantly. The tiny tea candles were lit, the gold placemats were shiny with recent cleaning, the silverware gleamed (well, as much as hand-me-down cutlery in a college apartment can gleam) and the artistic, blue and white swirled plates, with rippled lips awaited the arrival of my, fingers crossed, delicious meal! I couldn’t wait to serve my friends in our new home and to duplicate the love and care that my Mom could deliver with one perfectly executed dinner, and beautifully set table.

Okay, okay, so this was the first meal that I had ever cooked by myself, without any advice or supervision (and supervision I needed), but I didn’t exactly expect to be worried about burning the place down. The event began as usually as could be expected, with the unreasonable confidence of the novice cook. I cleaned the chicken and hummed along to the music in the background as I added tiny dashes of salt and pepper to each side. I read the directions on the rice bag, washed and prepared the broccoli and took in a deep breath for luck.

But most of the time, even careful preparation can’t save you from blind ignorance…

All of sudden, as in when the actual cooking began, things fell apart. The Panko wouldn’t stick to the chicken lathered in buttermilk, the rice wouldn’t cook fast enough for the chicken, and the broccoli, well, it just cooked too damned fast. What was I to do as the fumes of burning breadcrumbs filled the air and the possibility of a fire-alarm emergency became a reality? As any self-respecting kitchen warrior would do, I carried on until my meal was delivered to those beautiful blue plates on the exceptionally decorated dinner table.

My poor roommates were forced to saw into the horribly rough chicken like construction workers holing into concrete with a jackhammer. I think what they really needed was dynamite. But of course, they were good sports. They applauded my culinary disaster as if it were the work of a 5-star rated chef. Everyone needs friends like that.

And yes, that is the moral of my story. When you mess up so horribly that redeeming yourself is completely impossible, all you really need are some friends who will smile as they grittily gnaw their teeth into a tortured chicken and laud over your meal as it if were a treasure yet unknown to man. That’s the best anyone can hope for in a situation like this.

Panko Chicken Recipe

All you will need:

4 chicken breasts

1 Panko box

2 cups of buttermilk

Salt and pepper for seasoning

Directions:

First, clean the chicken breasts. Salt and pepper to taste.

Put buttermilk in a shallow bowl and lay both sides of the chicken in the buttermilk until it is evenly coated. Repeat the process with the Panko.

When you are ready, heat up your skillet or frying pan with a splash of oil and begin cooking. When the first side begins to take on an evenly golden color, flip the chicken and repeat on the other side.

Finally, don’t screw up like I did.

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