Food You Can Eat: Baked Chicken Caesar OR Baked Chicken in a Mushroom Sauce

Image via Becky Hardin/The Cookie Rookie

This is a very simple and easy recipe that I make a couple of times a year. It’s a little retro but not ridiculously so, not like whipping up a Beef Wellington. I came across this a few months ago on Becky Hardin’s The Cookie Rookie website (I subscribe so I get about an email a day) and I’m going to attribute this mostly to her, because she provided measurements, but believe me, this has been around since before she and I were born. 

I cannot just drop this without sharing a story of domestic mirth chez Cousin Matthieu. I made this last night and I presented a check for $600 to Life’s Helpmeet. “Here. My stimulus check came through and I want you to have it. I haven’t exactly been pulling my weight around here financially for quite some time—“ “Years—“ “so you take it, since you don’t qualify. What are you going to spend it on? Something for me I hope. I have my eye on a new Churchill biography that deals with wartime London—“ “The dog’s Dasuquin medication. That alone runs $600 a year.” “Oh. Well, enjoy.”


Four chicken breasts. Try to guess how much you would like to eat, but this makes excellent leftovers if you make too much

1 cup creamy, decidedly not low-fat, Caesar salad dressing. 

1/2 cup sour cream

OR, instead of the Caesar salad dressing and the sour cream:

1 can of the best, creamiest, richest cream of mushroom soup you can find. Not Campbell’s. Try to find something organic maybe, or small batch. You’ll need at least 10 oz. and these kinds of soups come in odd sizes.

1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese. (I’m pretty sure I use more but this seems like a good guideline.) For this you can actually use the Kraft stuff that comes in those cardboard canisters. In fact here I recommend it. I think you’ll see why.


You want your chicken breasts to be of uniform thickness, so if they’re not you need to pound/press them so that they’re no thicker than 1 inch. Becky says do this by placing them in a Zip-Loc bag, which is an excellent suggestion. I do the two sheets of plastic wrap method.

Take them out and on a plate sprinkle on both sides with some of your parmesan cheese but not too much. If you use the Kraft(-ish) stuff you don’t need to salt the chicken. If you’ve grated your own parmesan, also salt and pepper the breasts. Using your TONGS place them in a baking dish that will hold them, probably 8 X 11, maybe 8 X 8. Don’t butter the baking dish beforehand. If it’s not non-stick, spray it with PAM or something similar. 

Now, whisk the Caesar salad dressing and the sour cream in a bowl. If using the mushroom soup, pour that in a bowl and look at it. Does it look creamy and mushroom-y enough for you? If not, slice a little more mushrooms, add some heavy cream, mix in a little flour, whatever you think it might lack.

Pour the salad dressing combo or the mushroom soup/sauce over the breasts and smear it around so it forms a layer. Add the rest of the parmesan cheese on top in an even layer. 

Pop it into a preheated oven set at 375 degrees uncovered for 30 minutes. Because the chicken is probably not quite done yet and you have the cheesy top, now set the oven to broil for a few minutes but not for long, 5 minutes max. Keep an eye on it so the cheese doesn’t burn, especially if you’ve grated your own.

Pull it out and let it sit, tented in foil, on the stovetop. This allows it to cool down and the sauce to thicken. Because we can never get enough carbs I serve this quartered over pasta. I use whatever long pasta, like spaghetti or linguine, I have on hand, which I have timed so that it’s cooked and drained, and then plated while the chicken is resting. Scoop out some of the sauce and try to mix it in with the pasta on the plates with a fork. Quarter the chicken in the baking dish, top the pasta, and then spoon on more sauce. You can garnish with parsley but parsley doesn’t do much for me, even though I have tons available for free thanks to the communal garden. You can also serve the chicken by itself alongside rice (this is what Becky does) or some kind of potato. When I do this I just boil some baby baby potatoes and butter them. A simple garden salad would not be the worst accompaniment, if you’re into things like greens and vitamins. You can also steam some asparagus and/or broccoli and top with some of the sauce. A warmed loaf of crusty baguette is also handy for mopping up the sauce, if you want. 

For dessert (because we are total gluttons) The Better Half said, ”I picked up something I thought you’d like.” He produced a box from my favorite supermarket. “Are these those Italian cookies I like so much?” “Oh no, much better. Open it.” Inside was a birthday cake that was inscribed, in frosting, “Happy Brithday Jonajhona” and a cellphone number. “What is this?” “Well, I stopped by the bakery department and got chatting with your buddy X and she told me that the guy they asked to do the icing was drunk or high or something, read the note wrong, so they fired him. They were going to throw it out but she offered it to me for $1. Apparently they can’t just give food away and they have to charge something. She swears it’s perfectly fine, the guy only did the writing, so let’s try it!” “Why didn’t they keep it for themselves?” “Imagine working at McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts. Would you ever eat a Big Mac or a donut ever again?” Mmmm, probably not.” It was amazing. So happy “brithday” “Johnajhona”! Maybe I’ll call your parents and thank them for the cake.



  1. (Sigh) I’m fasting right now, and this hurts to look at. But I will make this before the winter is over. I’ve done the mushroom soup style before, so I’ll give the caesar a shot.

  2. Fired for getting the name wrong? That’s harsh, plus the bakery missed an opportunity to go on cake wrecks and nab some free publicity. A friend’s birthday is coming up and she was all weird about telling me when it is, but fuck her, cake is delicious, I’m going to make her one anyway.

    • I remember the guy being talked about. In the pre-pandemic era I used to haunt that bakery department and even applied for a part-time job there, with no success. He could be perfectly pleasant but often he had—some anger issues, let’s say. He was not popular among his colleagues and I’m sure some customers complained. I once went in on a Sunday morning and he had obviously had a rough night. We were having people over for brunch and I stopped in to get a variety of muffins. “What kind of fucking muffins? We have a billion of them.” “Um, a dozen, one of each. You pick.” He gave me a box with nine. “No, I meant 12…” He loaded more in so I got 15. They hired this guy and not me. I guess it’s because I’m over 23 and have a college degree and prefer to be sober while at work. 

      • Yeah, this is the kind of “last straw” thing that gets people fired in grocery stores.  My guess is he had an HR sheet a mile long and the combination of being loaded on the job (which, honestly, is an immediate termination literally anywhere I’ve ever worked), and being a total dick to everyone were the major issues.  Screwing up the order was just the most recent thing, and he was probably given his 3rd or 4th written warning that said “one more mistake and you’re out.”

      • Imma gonna play devil’s advocate here and say I don’t blame him for not wanting to pick YOUR muffins. Back in the day when I worked at a hair salon [ugh it hurts to type those words] it used to drive me nuts when people would ask me how they should wear their hair. FFS, it is not my head, not my lifestyle. For what it’s worth, the best hairstyle is the one that you can wash your hair, drag a comb through it and look presentable, if you have to torture your hair to make it look nice you should prolly rethink it. And this is 1 reason why I don’t do that for a living anymore.
        Anyway, I am super cranky today because I had 2 pointless meetings this morning, at 10 and 12. A 10 am meeting fucks my whole day, 7 to 11 is when I get most of my work done, it is really hard to get back in gear if that is disrupted.

        • Thing is (and I say this as a veteran of grocery stores), people are fucking pigs.  If you spend enough time in an area where people can serve themselves unwrapped food items, you will notice scant few who actually use the tissues or any other item that avoids touching food with your bare hands.  Not only that, but they will frequently move shit around looking for just the perfect muffin/cookie/whatever.  It’s even worse when kids are doing the grabbing.  So, you can easily have some unwashed shitheel who just sneezed into their hands an hour ago pawing through 5-10 muffins before settling on one or two.  No thanks.

          • When I had a corporate life my company had a very sub-par cafeteria. It was like a Soviet worker’s canteen, but rather than being subsidized it was over-priced, but we were in a little Manhattan food desert (they exist; I live in one now, which is one of the reasons why I cook so much.) It had a salad bar with greens that had barely thawed after being shipped in from God knows where or were wilted and sad, way past their optimal use time. It was really kind of amazing in its awfulness. Pinto beans that Goya would have rejected outright. Olives, for some reason; rumor had it that one of SVPs liked them. It always had a tray of chopped hard-boiled eggs. One employee, who was very strange, would get to the cafeteria the minute it opened at 11:30 AM and would laboriously pick through the eggs with her bare hands, shake off the yolk, and only take the whites. I’m not exactly sure what value she brought to the company (talk about anger issues) but she would regularly take leaves of absence for “personal reasons.” After her third divorce (yes, she was married three times, there’s a lid for every pot) she just quit outright Upon her departure she sent a widely distributed email that was so disturbing that our useless, ineffectual HR department sent out an advisory notice that she was banned from the building and we should not let her in, should she ever return. Ever since then I’ve been wary of people who pick over food at buffets, figuring they might be armed and dangerous. It’s widely assumed that after the pandemic is over salad bars and buffets will still be a thing of the past, so traumatized are we from the experience.

            • A couple of jobs ago I worked for a company that had about 500 employees on site, and they’d bring in breakfast on Fridays from different restaurants (Panera, etc.) It was mostly pastries and fruit. Well and good. 
              We had hired a very, very strange woman who worked in my department. I don’t remember her name, but I can picture her vividly. She was absolutely obsessed with Friday breakfast, and she’d go through the line two or three times, to the point where HR or someone finally had to sit her down and say “Please leave some of the food for other people.” She wasn’t particularly large, though, so we were confused about what she was actually doing with all the food. I mean, she’d bring plates and plates back to her desk and pile it up there. 
              Leftover food went into a cafe area, and people could continue to grab it all day. This utterly obsessed her. The building had a three-story atrium and all our cubicles were around it (if you ranked high enough, you got a window seat, either atrium or facing outside). You could watch her sneak back down at around 10 and stealthily approach the cafe, dart inside, and come out with even more food. It was bizarre. 
              No one ever found out what she did with the food. Eat it? Sneak it out and take it home and feed herself for the next week? Eating disorder? We never knew. She got let go (I don’t remember why) and we never found out. I heard later she started working for a cruise line and I wondered if she was constantly collecting food from their buffets and scuttling back to her cabin with it to squirrel it away. 

        • I thought “dealer’s choice” would be easier on him, just go down the rows picking one of each, rather than, “Two blueberry, three apple, one pecan” etc. Believe me, you would not have wanted to run into this guy in a dark alley late at night. 

  3. Dearest Cousin M (sorry actual work delayed my response) you are a gem! So I have a crock pot chicken recipe with mushroom soup, from the 1960’s, that may be your jam! I got it from the lady up the street where I grew up, she called it Chicken Cherubi. Line a crock pot with 1/2 to 1 pound of sliced dried beef. Par-cook bacon, 2 slices per chicken breast (so 8 bacon to 4 breast, etc.). You want the bacon to be wrapable but not really greasy. Wrap the bacon around the chicken breasts and plunk them atop the beef. Mix together 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 container of sour cream (8-12 oz), and one cup of sherry. (The sherry is important here – I am not sure of what could be substituted for those who eschew alcohol, it adds a rich, nutty flavor.) Pour the mixture over everything, turn on the crock pot, and come back 6-8 hours later to super yumminess.

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