hey friends, let’s chat about the suddenly chic crappy dinner party. the article goes into more details but basically the rules are: forget the rules, see the people. as someone who spent all day saturday seeing people i wish i saw more often, i’m all in.
extra credit for those of you extra-credit-seeking types: serve the frozen pizza (or pear, goat cheese, and chicken panini) on your fancy china. you know, the “good” stuff you save for “special” occasions. because time spent with your people is the special occasion.
we received a solemn reminder of this recently when a friend of ours lost her 5-week old baby. in her social media post alerting family and friends of the tragedy that had struck her family, she ended by encouraging us to celebrate her son’s life and really live our own as we:
hug each other tonight.
hug your sweet babies.
use the china, wear the clothes, take the picture, do the thing.
life is short.
so if having another quick and easy recipe in your back pocket (or really, a pizza in the freezer works too!) helps you see your people, then i’m all about it.
on a related note, you may have noticed that i sometimes categorize recipes as “weeknight”. these are the recipes that i consider totally doable on a weeknight when you’ve been juggling things all day long and just want to eat some tasty food without fussing in the kitchen too much.
some of the “weeknight” recipes violate crappy dinner party rule #2 about not requiring a trip to the grocery store but once you have the ingredients, you can have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes.
and finally, the recipes are equally delicious whether served on fine china or paper plates but they are definitely best enjoyed with your people sitting around the table with you. thank you for being here and letting me join you at your table.
- 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and pounded to an even ½” (1.25 cm) thickness
- 1 small or half of a large yellow onion, cut into ¼” (0.6 cm) slices
- 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 4 slices of hearty wheat bread
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 ripe pear, cored and thinly sliced, see notes
- 2 oz. (about 2 heaping tablespoons / 57 g.) goat cheese
- a few thin slices of raw red onion
- a small handful of baby arugula
- cook your chicken to 165° F. i like to toss it (plain) on the panini press because it cooks quickly so it stays juicy and gets some tasty, browned flavor. if you don’t have a press, cook the chicken breast in a medium skillet, covered over medium heat (and with a teaspoon of olive oil if your skillet isn’t non-stick). once the chicken is cool enough to handle, slice into thin (~1/2” / 1.25 cm) strips.
- heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat. add two teaspoons of the olive oil and once hot, add the sliced yellow onion. sauté until the onion is translucent, starting to brown, and softened (but still retaining its shape). remove from heat.
- brush one side of 2 of the slices of bread with the olive oil and set oiled side down. spread mustard on the non-oiled/face-up side. divide the pear slices, chicken strips, and sautéed onion between the two sandwiches. spread the goat cheese on one side of the 2 remaining slices of bread and place cheese side down on the sandwiches. brush the tops of the sandwiches with olive oil.
- place the paninis in the panini press or a large skillet. if using a skillet, cover while the first side is browning but keep the lid off after you flip the sandwich over so the crispy side doesn’t turn soggy from condensation. cook until both sides of the panini are lightly golden brown.
- once you remove the sandwiches from the panini press or skillet, pull the two slices of bread apart, stuff a few slices of red onion and a small bunch of arugula in there, then close the sandwich back up and use a sharp bread knife to slice in half. repeat with the second sandwich. enjoy immediately, preferably with your people.
i used a bartlett pear, which is very soft and juicy, especially when cooked. if you want a slightly drier pear that holds its shape, a bosc pear would be a good choice.
as always with sandwiches, if you’d like more or less of a particular ingredient, i encourage you to customize and make your best sandwich. the measurements here are guidance rather than mandate.