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Monday, February 6, 2023

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Mouthwatering “Monster” Chicken!

DEBRA CAFFREY

“We’re having Monster Chicken tonight!” I love saying this to my son, who gobbles up this scary-sounding, yet delicious dish. Truth be told, it is not frightening at all! Our family’s nickname for the easy go-to recipe came about because of the star of the meal—Muenster cheese. When you’re a busy parent, it’s crucial to have an arsenal of simple yet satisfying ideas for dinner that your kids will actually eat, but what makes dinner planning all the more enjoyable is when you can have fun with the process and even come up with nicknames that make food and ingredients less intimidating and more approachable to children. Not only is “Monster Chicken” a yummy and kid-friendly dish, it is easy to prepare! It’s been a family favorite for years.

Muenster cheese is a semi-firm mild cheese that is easy to work with. It is perfectly salty, a bit nutty, yet tame enough to complement the rest of the ingredients of a recipe without being overpowering. I love to use it on burgers and veggie patties, but because it has great melting properties, it’s delicious in mac and cheese recipes as well as atop casseroles like my Monster Chicken. You start by making every kid’s favorite—chicken nuggets—in a homemade form, add some earthy mushrooms, chicken broth and cheese, then bake until ooey, gooey and simply scrumptious! A bit of magic happens to the chicken in the oven. The chicken broth and cheese meld together into a luscious, flavorful sauce that is irresistible.

By calling the dish “Monster Chicken,” the less familiar cheese becomes accessible to finicky eaters. Best yet, they hardly notice the mushrooms hiding in the casserole. It’s super easy to pull together, and when paired with some rice and a vegetable, makes for a quick and complete weekday dinner for the whole family. I hope you love it as much as my family does, but be forewarned—everyone will be fighting for the cheesy leftovers!

Muenster Chicken

Ingredients:
● 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
● 2 eggs, beaten
● 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
● 1 tablespoon garlic powder
● Salt and pepper, to taste
● ½ cup sliced mushrooms
● ½ cup butter or margarine
● ½ cup reduced sodium chicken broth
● 4–5 ounces grated Muenster cheese

1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine bread crumbs, garlic powder, and salt and pepper in a large bowl until blended. Dip chicken into beaten eggs, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, shaking off excess.
2) In a large skillet over medium heat, heat butter until melted and slightly bubbling. Sauté chicken until lightly browned, approximately 5–6 minutes on each side. Drain chicken on paper towels.
3) Place chicken into a greased baking dish. Top with sliced mushrooms, then pour chicken broth on top. Sprinkle grated Muenster over chicken and mushrooms.
4) Bake for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbling.

Debra Caffrey
Debra Caffrey
Debra Caffrey is the writer/editor of the Education and Infant & Pregnancy e-newsletters for Fredericksburg Parent and Family. She also writes the monthly Practical Pantry column, sharing her recipes and tips on being a home cook, grocery shopping, and smart meal planning. Debra is the proud mother of an almost-teenage son. When she's not writing, cooking, or parenting, Debra enjoys working out, yoga, running, hiking, traveling, and reading.

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