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Monterrey Jack Ranchero Chicken

Brrrrrr.  It has been chilly here in South Texas. 

Just chilly, though, not crazy cold like last year.

We went to a soccer game on Friday and endured the cold quite well, but yesterday and today, I have been quite worthless.

I gave myself permission to veg in bed all weekend since we had a rough week, not to mention a rough month.  Ok, I'll take it a little further and say it has been a rough year up until now. 

So I told myself, "Take the weekend to recoup and then start fresh on Monday."

As I lay in bed, watching DVR's of all my favorite shows I have been missing, I saw Teresa Giudice from the Real Housewives of New Jersey making Chicken Parmesan on the Nate Berkus Show.

It made my mouth water.  Look at it...     

   

courtesy of the Nate Berkus Show

I bet it made your mouth water too!

The tomato sauce looked sooo delicious.  It made me hungry for ranchero sauce...and Monterrey jack cheese.

So, I got out of the bed to go see if we had the ingredients necessary to make a Mexican style spin-off of her recipe.

I found...

  • chicken (in the freezer)
  • croutons
  • whole peeled tomatoes
  • tomato sauce (in the fridge)
  • onions
  • Monterrey jack cheese (in the fridge)

So, I got to work on what I call Monterrey Jack Ranchero Chicken

(NOTE:  I apologize in advance for the quality (or lack, thereof) of the photos.)

First, I did not have bread crumbs, but I did find some croutons.  I just threw those babies in my little food processor and ground them up real fine.  Perfect.

Then, I cut a small onion in half and then sliced it into thin slices.

 

I threw them into a skillet with about two tablespoons of olive oil and sauteed them until they were soft and translucent.

Then I added the can of whole peeled tomatos and the can of tomato sauce. 

You can use diced tomatoes if you like.  We did not have any so I just smashed the whole peeled tomatoes.     

Then I added 1/2 tsp. of salt, about 1/8 tsp of garlic and a dash of cumin.  

Play around with it.  If you really like garlic and cumin add a little more.

Personally, when it comes to ranchero sauce, I just want the garlic and cumin to be there in the background enhancing the tomato flavor.  I want the tomato sauce to be the star.

You could also spice it up a little with sliced fresh jalepeno or a can of Rotel, but I am more of a purist and again, want the tomato sauce to be the star.

Ok, I added about 1/2 cup water and let the sauce simmer and reduce, stirring occasionally.

As it was reducing, I took my chicken breast and placed it in a plastic bag.

And I beat it with the flat side of meat mallet until it was very, very thin.     

 

I had my flour, egg and breadcrumbs on plates in an assembly line.

After I salted and peppered the chicken I dipped it in the flour... 

...then the egg...

   

Then the bread crumbs, or in our case, the croutons. 

Take your breaded chicken and fry it in a pan...

    

You don't have to fry it very long because it is so thin.  As your chicken is frying, go back to your ranchero sauce.  It should be nice and reduced.

Spoon a layer of sauce on the bottom of a baking dish and place your cooked chicken on top.

Then top your chicken with Monterrey Jack cheese and spoon in the remainder of your ranchero sauce around your chicken.

Bake it uncovered at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

I served it with some spanish rice left over from the night before.

It was really good.

I have to say, though...as in Teresa's low fat version of the Chicken Parmesan, I think this ranchero chicken would have been just as tasty even if we had just grilled the chicken minus the flour, egg and bread crumbs and then topped with the ranchero sauce and Monterrey Jack cheese. 

Overall, it was a delicious meal that did not take much time to make.

Did you make anything different this weekend?  How did it turn out?

I am sure it was wonderful just as I am sure your week will be!

 

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