A new twist on a traditional recipe that will leave you wanting more. Whether you need to put together something quick and delicious for a gathering, for your family, or maybe for yourself, crostini's are delightful.
Crostini means 'little crusts' in Italian. Basically, small slices of bread with toppings that include meats, cheeses, and vegetables. They are thought to have originated in the medieval area as it was custom for peasants to eat their meals on top of bread as ceramics may have not been available to them. Which kind of reminds me of the Primanti Bros. restaurant in Pittsburgh, PA. They put the side items on the sandwich, a tradition that started with the working class so they would be able to eat with one hand and work with the other.
Appetizer or main course?
Either one or both, in my opinion. It's supposed to be an appetizer. I've sort of modified it to be more the focal point of a meal. It works for me for a number of reasons. Mostly I cook for just me plus one. So this is something that we can enjoy and I have something I can take for lunch for a few days. Also, I don't eat a lot at one time, so if I have appetizers, I usually don't feel like eating more. Even when I cook a big steak, I typically only eat half and save the rest for lunch the next day. Meat about the size of a deck of cards, or your hand (not including fingers), is really all anyone needs to eat at one time. So, I make them a little larger than an appetizer and accompany it with a small bowl of pasta and salad.
"Do your thing, or just this thing"
For appetizer style, use a small thin bread and top with suitable size portions of your choice of topping. I'm going to show you how I make them and you can conform it to your preference. This recipe could feed 6-12 plus depending on your appetite and shouldn't take longer than 30-45 min to put together. * One tip of advice; my recipe calls for goat cheese and that may put you off at first if you aren't familiar with it. You may be inclined to substitute with mozzarella. DON'T you need to trust me on this. Please, please, please use goat cheese, you need to trust me on this, it REALLY is the rock star of this whole dish. It would not be the same with any other cheese. Just do the thing, no regrets. You will love this, I promise.
Tools of the Trade
You'll need a few things to accomplish this. You probably have a decent knife and a can opener. You may not have a cheese slicer though. I recommend picking one up. They cost less than $5 usually, it doesn't need to be anything fancy. It's not an absolute necessity but it is a great thing to have on hand. Goat cheese is very soft and a cheese slicer works better with it than a knife in my opinion. Just a cleaner way to do it.
Boneless chicken - Any boneless chicken will do. I get a big pack boneless breast. I usually have a few extra and I wrap them individually and freeze for use in a future meal.
Goat cheese - 2 small packs. You'll find it near the deli of the grocery store.
Black olives (sliced) - Probably just need one can. I usually get 2 just in case.
Garlic bread (1 loaf) - I use one from the frozen section. It works perfect for this.
Olive oil (extra virgin)
Salt & Pepper & Garlic
Let's Get Started
First thing you'll need to do is rinse the chicken in hot water and trim off all the fat. Slice them into small portions. After trimming off the fat, take the breast and slice it in half. Then you can cut the halves into 2-3 portions. They should look something like this. You'll need about 12-14 pieces. Heat a skillet on med heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. While that heats up, season the chicken with salt, pepper, oregano, and a little of garlic.
Place the chicken in the skillet and clean your work area. Now take your garlic bread out of the package. You'll notice it's a little thick and the top portion is rounded off. If you don't trim them, they'll be a little too big and the top portion will roll once you add the toppings. This was trial and error for me so I'll save you the trouble and tell you how to remedy this beforehand. You're welcome. What you'll do is take a bread knife and slice off a little of the bottom section, leaving enough to be supportive of the toppings. Do the same with the top section. It's a little larger, so cut it to size to match the lower section. *Don't toss it, you can heat it up later to serve with salad or pasta. A bread knife is jagged and cuts through bread better. However, using frozen bread, it should work fine with a regular knife. When cutting bread, always let the knife do the work, don't squeeze the bread with your hand. Hold it gently and slice with the knife. Line a pan with aluminum foil and add the bread. Foil is not an absolute necessity, but it's less messy.
Keep an eye on the chicken. It will cook quicker when sliced in small portions so don't let it burn. Turn them over when done on one side, add another tablespoon if you need to. Now, wash your tomatoes and slice them, you'll need one slice for every piece of chicken you have. As the chicken pieces get done, place them on a plate lined with a paper towel to catch the grease and pat the top dry. Open a can of black olives and rinse them off, and prepare a pack of goat cheese for slicing. Preheat the oven to 300-325 degrees. Add the bread to the oven and bake about 15 minutes. You'll don't need to fully cook it because you'll be adding it again to the oven for a few more minutes after the toppings are added. That should be enough to finish it off as about 20 minutes is required.
"Now for the fun part"
Place the chicken pieces on the bread with enough space in between to allow you to slice the bread in between with a knife. On top of that, place a slice of tomato then a slice of goat cheese. Now top with some olives, the cheese holds the olives in place, just press them in a little. Sprinkle some oregano over top then place the pan in the oven. You only need to leave it in for about five minutes. That will be enough to finish off the bread and melt the cheese just enough.
You may want to leave the loaves intact and slice off what you need when you are ready to serve. That may be a better option for storing what you have for left overs and/or for transporting to an event. The whole thing stays together better that way.
I went a little crazy with the oregano too, don't matter......no regrets. I loved it all the same. As you can see, I left the bread in a little too long, lesson learned, but you get the idea.
I ended up making a few more, I had some individual Texas toast slices I had on hand and some of the extra chicken that was left over. It works, there are no rules here for the most part. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Ready To Serve & Enjoy!
I served mine up with a salad and some of the bead left over from where I trimmed it. That's way more bread than I am used to eating on any occasion (including croutons), probably not the healthiest of choices. I sure enjoyed it anyway, it was delicious. Maybe you can come up with proper side items that will be more suitable for your diet. The point is, enjoy yourself & be creative.
These are a big hit in my circle of family and friends. It always brings a smile when I announce this is what is on the menu for the evening. I feel confident your family, friends, or co-workers will feel the same. Give them a try! It's an excellent option for when you are wanting to change it up but need something quick and easy to put together in a pinch. This is a simple but absolutely impressive and amazingly delicious dish.
Enjoy and thanks for reading!