Like many people, I feel best when I obtain the brunt of my nourishment from foods high in protein and fat, rather than from carbohydrate-rich meals or snacks. Proteins and especially fats seem to keep me going far longer and leave me feeling energized, focused, and satiated without experiencing a need to eat again for quite some time.
As a busy person who does a lot of running around, I often find it difficult to sustain my protein/fat intake on the go. I’m no stranger to driving down the road with half an apple smothered in nut butter on my lap! That said, I really don’t like overdoing it with the nuts. Meat, eggs, and dairy are better foods for my body type. They sustain my energy better, and they’re more digestible for me. So, instead of my “lap-apple,” you might see me gnawing a piece of steak at a stoplight, especially when leftovers are plentiful in the fridge. 🙂
A problem I have in the summer is I crave meat less than in the cooler months. Actually, to be more precise, I don’t crave big chunks of meat that I have to cut or really chew. I find I’m more drawn to “finger food meats” such as sliced ham, salami, or smoked salmon. Strangely, the sight of a big, juicy charred steak doesn’t appeal to me, but slice that steak so I can pick it up with my fingers, and I am all about it!
Enter my new favorite obsession: handheld, portable meat-and-veggie snacks that can be eaten hot, warm, room temperature, or even cold. Patties, fritters, pancakes—whatever you want to call them, I have found an answer to my needs that fits my busy lifestyle.
I first started experimenting with patties like this as a means to use up cooked leftover fish. I then took the idea further and started using shredded leftover chicken. Now, they’ve become such a practical and delicious provision that I go out of my way to roast a whole chicken just to make patties from the meat! (And if I feel pressed for time or just want something more convenient, a store-bought rotisserie chicken makes them doable in a snap.)
I like these Herbed Chicken Parmesan Patties best freshly cooked, hot and crispy, beside a salad freshly dressed with a tangy vinaigrette. They’re also great served with a creamy dip-type topping, such as remoulade or tartar sauce. Additionally, they make a fantastic burger-type sandwich or wrap. And you can make the patties smaller for a yummy, bite-sized treat at a potluck, picnic, or backyard party.
This recipe is a great way to use up any leftover meats and veggies or scraps from the veggie drawer. Small pieces of cheese can be grated or crumbled in as well. The patties are best served hot or warm, in my opinion, because of their crispy exterior when served that way. But to be honest, they’re almost equally satisfying straight from the fridge—especially when I feel my blood sugar drop or need to run out the door on a moment’s notice. They also freeze well, so I highly recommend making a big batch. Freeze them by laying them flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and putting the sheet in the freezer. Once the patties are frozen, transfer them to an airtight container or bag and return them to the freezer. Reheat the patties directly from frozen in a preheated 400˚F oven.
Herbed Chicken Parmesan Patties
Tip: The amount of bread crumbs you need will vary depending on how juicy your patty mixture is (which depends on the type and amount of vegetables you use). You want the mixture to hold together when you squeeze it. If you’re unsure, then start with the smaller amount of bread crumbs suggested in the recipe and fry one patty as a test; then add more crumbs (or rice or ground nuts) to the mix as necessary.
Makes: approximately 1 dozen patties
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: About 1 hour for cooking chicken, plus about 20 minutes to fry
4 cups shredded cooked chicken meat
1 small onion, half of it grated on largest side of a box grater, the other half thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, grated on largest side of box grater and squeezed dry
2–3 cups shredded greens (such as spinach, chard, kale, etc.)
1½ cups grated parmesan cheese
½–1 cup fresh bread crumbs, cooked rice, or ground nuts
5 large eggs
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Butter or other fat, for frying
- Combine all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Test mixture by squeezing a little in your hand. It should hold together in a ball. (See tip above regarding amount of bread crumbs.) Form about ½ cup of the mixture into a ball the size of a pool ball. Flatten the ball between your palms to form a patty and set aside. Repeat until all the mixture is converted into patties.
- Melt about 1 tablespoon butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the patties in batches, about 4 or 5 at a time depending on the size of your pan. (Do not crowd the pan, or the patties will steam and not brown as well. Add additional butter to the pan for each batch of patties cooked.) Cook patties about 3–5 minutes until golden underneath; then turn and cook until other side is golden. Transfer cooked patties to a plate and keep warm in a 250˚F oven until all patties have been cooked. Serve hot, warm, room temperature, or straight from the fridge.
Image from Briana Goodall.