This recipe is born of my Thanksgiving leftovers, though not in the typical turkey soup, casserole, or sandwich sense you may expect. Thanksgiving at my Grammy’s always began with a giant platter of antipasto; all varieties of meat, cheese, and marinated yummies, drizzled with a dressing made from the oils and vinegars which preserved and flavored the veggies. And though I now host my own Thanksgiving feast, a smaller version of that antipasto platter still belongs at my table.
So, after our Thanksgiving feast, we were left with the expected turkey leftovers, as well as a tasty assortment of salami, provolone, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives. In search of an easy dinner which would put those leftovers to use, I threw them all together in a baking dish with a bit of tomato sauce and a few chicken breasts. It wasn’t a planned blog post. No photos were taken or measurements made. It was just a lazy night’s meal made with leftovers. But the result was so delicious, I had to make it again just to share with you.
The savory antipasto ingredients flavor the tomato base as the dish cooks, creating a rich full-flavored tomato sauce. Nestled in the sauce as it bakes, the chicken remains moist and tender. Super simple for the busy holiday season, yet incredibly flavorful and satisfying!
Today’s Focus on Technique – Using an Instant Read Meat Thermometer
When cooking meat, it’s important not to rely too heavily on the stated cooking times in any given recipe. Normal variations in actual oven temperatures, along with differences in the weight and dimensions of individual cuts of meat, mean that your meat may cook slower or faster than the stated time in a recipe. To avoid under- or over-cooking meat, your best bet is to use an instant read meat thermometer. It’s one of the most useful kitchen tools you can have on hand. If you don’t already have one, put an instant read meat thermometer on your Christmas list immediately! I use mine almost every day.
Here are a few tips for properly using an instant read meat thermometer:
- Begin checking the temperature as you approach the expected finish time for your meat (typically a few minutes before the recipe’s stated time for smaller cuts; farther ahead for larger roasts).
- Remove the meat from the heat before measuring the temperature. Do not measure the temperature while the meat is still in the oven, as the oven heat may skew the results.
- Insert the thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the meat.
- Make sure that the thermometer is not poking out the other end or touching bone.
- Wait for the thermometer to register the temperature. Some thermometers will register the temperature immediately, while some will take a few seconds.
- According to the USDA, the following are the recommended minimum safe temperatures for various foods:
- Beef, Pork, Veal, and Lamb (steaks, roasts, and chops) – 145°F
- Ground meats (this includes hamburger) – 160°F
- Poultry – 165°F
- Fish and Shellfish – 145°F
- Keep your instant read meat thermometer pristinely clean and close at hand!
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/8 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 4 slices salami, chopped
- 1/2 small onion, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/4 cup olives (any kind), sliced
- 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper
- 3-4 slices provolone cheese, chopped
*Marinated mushrooms, spicy peppers, or marinated artichokes would all make delicious additions.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a baking dish, combine the tomato sauce, tomato paste, parmesan cheese, salami, onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, then press the chicken breasts into the tomato mixture. Turn once to coat on both sides. Bake for approximately 25-35 minutes*, until cooked through. Turn once, halfway through cooking. Once the chicken is cooked, sprinkle the provolone cheese over the top. Leave in the oven for just a few seconds to melt. *Cooking time will vary depending on the weight and dimensions of your chicken breasts. Use an instant read meat thermometer to determine doneness. Chicken is safely done at 165°F.
Slice and serve over pasta.
GIVEAWAY WINNER!! We have a winner! Using http://www.random.org to select a number at random, out of the 15 entries received for the yarn wreath gift bag giveaway, the winner is #2 , Jennifer. Congratulations, Jennifer!! I’m going to send you an email at the address provided with your comment to get the information necessary to send you out your prize!! Thank you to everyone who shared their holiday tips and traditions.