Ritzy cheddar chicken breasts and more weeknight recipes to try

By Emily Weinstein, The New York Times

Ritzy Cheddar Chicken Breasts

They’re as good as they sound: cheesy chicken cutlets coated with buttery Ritz crackers. Skipping the usual flour-egg-bread crumb dredge, this recipe relies instead on a flavorful base layer of tangy sour cream, which has lactic acid that tenderizes boneless, skinless chicken breasts beautifully. When it comes to breaded white meat, thin cutlets are ideal, which you can buy from the store or achieve by slicing thick breasts in half horizontally (no pounding necessary). They cook more evenly this way, staying tender throughout as they’re quickly baked in a hot oven. Serve with something fresh — a big green salad, perhaps — to balance the wonderful richness of this nostalgic number.

By Eric Kim

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing wire rack
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers (about 100 grams)
  • 2 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder


1. Position rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat oven to 450 degrees. Place an ovenproof wire rack over a sheet pan. Dab a folded-up paper towel with olive oil and rub it over the wire rack to grease it.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, egg white and Dijon mustard until smooth. Season with salt. Lay the chicken flat on a cutting board and carve each breast in half horizontally so you end up with four thin cutlets. Add the chicken to the sour cream mixture, and using your hands, smear the sour cream all over the chicken.

3. In a large bowl, crush the Ritz crackers into coarse pieces with your fingers. Some crackers will turn to rubble while others turn to dust. Add the cheese, garlic powder, onion powder and olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss until evenly distributed. Holding one of the chicken cutlets by its thinner end, add to the bowl with the crumbs, and using your hands, pack the crumbs onto the chicken, pressing them in to create a thick coating. Transfer the breaded chicken to the rack in the sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining three cutlets.

4. Bake the cutlets until the outsides are crispy and the insides are no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Let the chicken cool slightly so the coating can set, about 5 minutes, before transferring to plates and serving.

One-Pan Salmon Niçoise With Orzo

This one-skillet dinner has the bright flavors of a salade Niçoise but is more substantial, so you can eat it all year long, even on a chilly evening. For a happy mix of exciting textures — tender salmon and orzo, snappy green beans, juicy tomatoes — cook the orzo with shallots and olives, then in the last few minutes of cooking, nestle in the green beans and salmon fillets to cook. Meanwhile, stir together a vinaigrette that’s punchy with fresh tomatoes, vinegar, Dijon mustard and raw shallot to spoon over the finished dish. Adapt this rendition further as you like, adding anchovies with the sautéed or raw shallots, swapping the salmon for canned tuna, or adding capers or sliced cucumbers to the tomato vinaigrette.

By Ali Slagle

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 35 minutes


  • 1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup orzo
  • Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal) and pepper
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 pint cherry or other small tomatoes, halved (8 to 10 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Handful of basil leaves or pinch of thyme leaves (optional)
  • 4 (4- to 5-ounce) salmon fillets, skin on or off
  • 8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths


1. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the chopped shallot to a medium bowl, then add the remaining shallot to a large (12-inch) skillet. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat over medium high. When the oil is sizzling, add the orzo, season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and stir constantly until light golden, 2 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the olives plus 2 1/4 cups water; bring to a boil, then cover the skillet with a lid, baking sheet or foil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook according to package directions until the orzo is al dente.

3. Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, red wine vinegar, mustard, herbs (if using) and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the reserved shallots in the bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper then set aside. Season the salmon with salt and pepper.

4. When the orzo is al dente, add the green beans and stir to combine. If orzo looks dry, add 1/4 cup water; you want it to be wet but not soupy. Nestle the salmon in a single layer into the orzo, skin-side up if applicable. Cover and cook until the salmon and orzo are cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 2 minutes. If your salmon has skin, peel it off and discard. Top the orzo and salmon with the tomatoes and vinaigrette.

Glazed Tofu With Chile and Star Anise

This sauce — a dark, star anise-spiced caramel intermingled with rice wine, soy sauce, ginger and scallions — builds sweet, acidic and umami notes as it coats and infuses tofu. Sichuan hui guo rou, or twice-cooked pork, inspired the technique used here with tofu: The blocks are first seared whole, then torn into bite-size pieces and returned to the pan, where the craggy edges absorb the sauce. Additions from your pantry, such as a spoonful of doubanjiang, or fermented broad bean paste, fermented black beans or chile oil can invite deeper, more complex flavors. Serve warm with steamed rice and stir-fried greens.

By Yewande Komolafe

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 2 (14-ounce) packages firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or stock
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce (see tip)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, scrubbed and thinly sliced
  • 1 small hot dried chile
  • 6 scallions, whites cut into 1/2-inch pieces, greens thinly sliced
  • Steamed rice, for serving


1. Place the tofu blocks between paper towels and press gently to remove excess liquid.

2. In a large skillet or cast-iron pan, warm the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season both sides of the tofu with salt and place in the pan; sear without moving until the contact side is browned, about 4 minutes. Turn the pieces over and sear the other side until browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer the tofu to a plate.

3. Carefully add 1/2 cup water, the sugar and star anise to the pan. (The mixture will sputter and steam.) Cook, stirring, until the syrup is reduced and turns deep amber, 4 to 5 minutes. Pour in the stock carefully (again being mindful of sputtering), along with the Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and chile, and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced, syrupy and glossy, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Use your fingers to break the tofu into 1/2-inch pieces, return to the pan and add the scallion whites. Toss to coat with the sauce and cook until warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and discard the star anise and dried chile. Garnish with scallion greens and serve immediately with steamed rice.


To replicate 1/4 cup dark soy sauce using regular or light soy sauce, combine 1/4 cup regular or light soy sauce with 2 teaspoons molasses.

Linguine With Clam Sauce

Purists may object, but canned clams are a great weeknight pantry stalwart. When fresh ones are out of reach, or when you’ve decided you need a briny fix, the canned clam is reliable no matter the season. This recipe calls for dry vermouth, which adds a subtle herbaceous layer of flavor. (Vermouth has a long shelf life when stored properly, and it’s great to have on hand to make a last-minute pan sauce.) Canned clams are already salty, so be mindful of oversalting the pasta water or the sauce. The dish is finished with lemon zest for brightness and butter for silkiness. The best part? The whole thing can be on the table in the same amount of time it takes to boil water.

By Colu Henry

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 25 minutes


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound linguine or other long pasta, such as linguine fini or spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 2 (10-ounce) cans whole baby clams with their juices
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 to 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until 2 minutes short of al dente (it will finish cooking in the sauce). Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain pasta.

2. While the pasta cooks, make your sauce: Heat the oil in a deep-sided 12-inch skillet over medium. Add the garlic, red-pepper flakes and oregano and cook until the garlic is pale golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the vermouth and simmer until reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the clams with their juices and cook until just warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

3. Add the cooked pasta directly to the skillet along with the butter and lemon zest and toss until the butter has melted and the pasta is glossy with sauce. If needed, add 1/4 cup reserved pasta water. Stir in half the parsley.

4. Serve pasta topped with a drizzle of olive oil, if desired, and the remaining parsley. Serve lemon wedges alongside if you like.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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