So I mentioned a few weeks ago that these days have been full of parking tickets.
I thought I’d flesh that out a little today. Eric and I, combined, have probably not had a parking ticket in about four years. But since the start of 2013, we’ve accumulated three.
Parking Ticket #1 was for expired tabs. Tabs that we’d ordered mid-December. Tabs that we’d waited for. Tabs we just kept assuming would come any day now. And then it happened. I left a friend’s house, hauled a 20-lb. Owen and his 500-lb. carseat over an icy snowbank, got him all snapped in and sat down to drive away when I saw it.
As I reached out the driver’s side door to grab the ticket, this twenty-something-year-old guy, smoking a cigarette out of his parked car’s window, informed me:
“You got a parking ticket.”
Super helpful. Thank you so much.
We called the DMV. Where are our tabs?! Apparently lost in the mail, they sent us a letter verifying our original order date, and fortunately, after a round of bad hearing officer, good hearing officer, Eric was able to get the fine revoked for Parking Ticket #1.
Which brings us to the next ticket. Our first babyless night out in weeks, we met some friends for dinner at perrenial-favorite Gandhi Mahal. As I raced inside out of the sub-zero winds, Eric braved the extra minute outside to dutifully pay the electric meter for our parking spot. He didn’t get a receipt, figured it was out of paper, and hurried inside behind me. Two hours later, enter Parking Ticket #2.
A mere four days later, Eric came home and said only the words, “I’m on a roll this month” as he walked through the door, holding Parking Ticket #3. He’d gone to play basketball, and parked his car on the street, but when he came out, there was yet another ticket on his windshield, scolding him for having the nerve to park his car in a “No Parking 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.” zone at 5:57. Oh the impudence.
It’s not that we think that all parking tickets are obnoxious…it’s just that, well, we are, for the most part, upstanding citizens. We keep our sidewalk shoveled. We generally drive the speed limit. We let pedestrians cross streets. If we had a dog, we would totally pick up after it. Aren’t there criminals to be caught? Kids with spray paint cans needing to be stopped? Are our police officers really that bored? That out of work? That they’re giving tickets three minutes before 6:00?
It’s scenarios like these that make chicken chiles rellenos the perfect recipe, because you see, you have to pound the chicken flat, and it takes a while, and it’s a good way to get out all of your pent-up aggression over what you see as “oh, come on!” parking tickets. It’s also a really good way to confuse, and slightly concern, your nine-month-old.
Apart from the pounding, this recipe is pretty simple, and really, really tasty. Flattened chicken breasts are rolled up around green chile peppers, cheese, cilantro, and seasoning…then breaded and baked into crispy, melty goodness. Topped with some extra cheese, cilantro, and salsa, and served with some “fried” Mexican rice, this is one of our very favorite meals.
So whatever you have to be frustrated about, these rellenos are just the thing.
(recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook )
(yields 6 servings)
This recipe for baked chicken chiles rellenos is pretty simple once you've pounded the chicken flat and has a great flavor from the green chiles baked inside along with cheese, cilantro, and seasoning. I adapted the recipe by using sharp cheddar instead of Monterey Jack, using lots of extra cilantro, adding cumin, and squeezing lime juice over the top. The lime juice makes this recipe pop. I also increased the baking time because I could never get my chicken to cook through in the original recipe's suggested 25 minutes.
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
one 4-oz. can whole green chile peppers, rinsed, seeded, and cut in half lengthwise
2 oz. or so of sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 2 x 1/2 x 1/2 inch sticks (6 sticks total)
app. 6 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
6 large pinches of cumin
6 large pinches of black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp. water
1/3 c. all purpose flour
3 tbps. cornmeal
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. melted butter
juice of a 1/2 lime
For serving: shredded sharp cheddar, salsa, fresh chopped cilantro, sour cream, green onions
Place one chicken breast half between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet (or a hammer if you don't have a mallet), pound the meat until it's about 1/4" thick, being careful not to pound a hole in the chicken breast. I start at the center and pound/flatten my way out. Err on the side of thickness as opposed to breaking a hole in the meat. Flatten all six chicken breasts.
Preheat oven to 375* and grease an 8x8" pan.
Sprinkle a pinch of cumin and a pinch of black pepper and about a tbps. of chopped cilantro on one side of each flattened chicken breast. Place a cheese stick and chili half on one edge of the chicken breast, and carefully roll the chicken breast around them, doing your best to tuck in the sides as you go. Secure each roll with 1-2 toothpicks.
In a small bowl, mix together the beaten egg and water. In a flat dish, stir together the flour, cornmeal, and cayenne. Dip each roll in the egg mixture, then roll it carefully in the flour mixture until completely coated.
Once coated place chicken rolls in a greased 8x8" square pan, seam side down. Drizzle melted butter over the rolls and bake, uncovered, in a 375* oven for about 45 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink (or a thermometer reads 170*).
Remove chicken from oven, squeeze a 1/4-1/2 lime over the top of the rolls, and remove toothpicks from the rolls before serving. Serve with heated salsa, extra shredded cheddar if desired, sour cream, and chopped cilantro and green onions.
We like to eat this with tortilla chips and cooked rice, fried briefly with salsa and lime juice.