It would be nice to prepare every meal from scratch with the finest and freshest of ingredients, but in the real-life world, time doesn't always permit that luxury. That's why convenience products, such as prepared chicken patties, are so useful. Even when you're faced with tight time constraints, the crisp, breaded portions provide numerous options for light or hearty meals.
Flatbreads and Flavors
For a quick lunch or on-the-go meal, chicken patties work surprisingly well with your favorite flatbreads. When the patties come hot from your oven, slice them into strips and tuck them into the pockets of halved pita breads. Spoon in marinated vegetables as a tangy garnish, or add lettuce, tomatoes and a yogurt-based dressing. For a variation on the theme, roll up your chicken strips in a colorful wrap or whole-grain flour tortilla with romaine lettuce and Caesar salad dressing. If you prefer a hot lunch, spread the cut-up patty across a flour tortilla with diced peppers and tomatoes, or a good salsa. Sprinkle it liberally with cheese, top it with another tortilla, and bake or fry it as a quesadilla.
A chicken patty is little more than the same breaded chicken cutlets you'd make yourself if time permitted. Just substituting patties for those cutlets trims the preparation time for many common dishes down to a bare minimum. For example, if you start cooking pasta and warming tomato sauce at the same time as when you pop your patties into the oven or toaster oven, you can put a pretty reasonable approximation of chicken parmigiana on the table in record time. Just top the patties with cheese and tomato sauce and add them to your pasta, and dinner's ready.
Another easy option is to consider the ingredients in your favorite stuffed-chicken recipe and then add them to the patties for an "un-stuffed" version. For example, if you're partial to chicken Cordon Bleu, top the patties with a slice each of ham and Swiss cheese before they come out of the oven. Broccoli and cheddar sauce is another common filling that works well over patties, whether purchased as a prepared side dish or assembled yourself with fresh or frozen broccoli. Softened herbed cream cheese, roasted peppers or a paste of sun-dried tomatoes are more elegant options in the same style.
Obvious, but Not
With a patty of any type, the path of least resistance is simply to slap it on a bun and serve it burger-fashion. That's true of chicken patties as well, but that doesn't mean you can't exercise some creativity. Start by swapping out the bland, traditional burger bun for something more interesting, such as a chewy, flavorful artisanal sourdough or ciabatta roll. Rummage through your fridge for forgotten condiments, from open jars of salsa to gourmet items like garlicy aioli, instead of the usual mayonnaise. Alternatively, give the burger format a traditional chicken-dinner spin by serving the patties on biscuits, with gravy as a dipping sauce.
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Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared on numerous home and garden sites including GoneOutdoors, TheNest and eHow.