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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: Pan Crisped Chicken Scaloppine an elegant, adult meal in a hurry

Thursday, September 02, 1999

Tested by Nancy Anderson, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Is it possible -- in less than 30 minutes -- to make a restaurant-quality entrée worth paying $12.95 for in a good bistro?

It certainly is, as we've been finding out since Countdown to Dinner started exactly one year ago today.

Our very first recipe, Quick Chicken a l'Orange, gave rise to dozens of simple but elegant adult-type recipes with a gourmet flair, as well as hearty, kid-pleasing one-pan dinners for the whole family.

By coincidence we're celebrating our birthday with another chicken recipe, Pan Crisped Chicken Scaloppine With Balsamic Vinegar, a resounding winner from Cheryl Vlasach of McKees Rocks.

The delicious scaloppine took barely 25 minutes to make but looked and tasted as if we'd slaved over it for hours. The sauce lost its strong vinegary flavor in the simmering, leaving behind just a hint of piquancy.

"It's one of my husband, Jim's, favorites and a good company dish," Vlasach said. "Sometimes I add a clove of garlic or some chopped zucchini and feta cheese for variation."

Vlasach, a second time Countdown contributor, found the recipe in a magazine four years ago. It appealed to her then and has become a reliable dinner staple since.

A part-time window clerk at the Presto, Pa., post office near Bridgeville and mother of an active 21-month-old daughter, Sydney, Vlasach likes to be inventive in the kitchen.

"We eat out a lot so when we're at home, I like to make good, tasty food," she said.

"We're trying to get our baby used to good things, too -- hamburgers, hot dogs and macaroni and cheese will never be standard kid fare at our house."

Good luck.

We served this dish with rice cooked in chicken broth. No vegetable was necessary but broccoli or asparagus would've added a savory green touch.

Pan Crisped Chicken Scaloppine with Balsamic Vinegar

4 plump boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3 tablespoons Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided (we used 4)
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 medium-large tomato, chopped
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Pound chicken to 1/4 inch thick between pieces of plastic wrap, then dredge in bread crumbs.

Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet. Sauté two pieces of chicken, pressing down with spatula until crisp on both sides and cooked through (about 5 to 7 minutes). Transfer to platter and keep warm (we put in a 200-degree oven). Add 1 more teaspoon of olive oil and sauté remaining chicken, removing to warming platter when done.

Turn heat to medium low and add other 2 teaspoons of olive oil.

Add mushrooms (we bought packaged pre-sliced) and sauté until soft. Turn heat to high and add the balsamic vinegar and tomato (we also added a few shakes of salt, pepper and garlic powder).

Cook for about 2 to 4 more minutes. Place each chicken scallop on a plate and top with vinegar/mushroom sauce.

Serve with rice pilaf.

Do you have an entrée, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number.

Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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