Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sunday Chicken Parmesan

If you have been cooking along with me, you now have leftover Italian Tomato Sauce in your fridge or freezer.  If not… get cooking so you can make chicken parmesan for dinner, or head to your pantry for one of those emergency jars of your favorite bottled sauce.
Chicken parmesan is a simple and delicious dish that has a big wow factor.  Sunday dinners at our house are a tradition and now that the kids are older they do a lot of the cooking with me.  I do the shopping and the prep, but my kids do the cooking and the dishes.  My job is to simply boss them around the kitchen.  I guess some things will never change...

My daughter Cecily lives in NY and the last time she was home she made a deliciously simple angel hair pasta with garlic sauce for us.  I emailed her and asked her what she did, and this is what she said;

Hi mom!  Just got your message.... let's see....

I think my biggest tip would be to make sure the pasta has plenty of moisture, meaning olive oil, butter, and pasta water.  What I did for a pound of cappellini was cook it to super al dente, then add it to like 1/2 cup of hot olive oil and the garlic that flavored it.  Then, when all the pasta is nicely coated with oil, add the water to make a kind of sauce (I skim the pasta water from the top where the starchy bubbles are so it'll thicken better).  Then, add some butter to tighten it up.  

That's pretty much what I got... You want there to be more sauce/liquid than the pasta can soak up so that it can lubricate everything.  


So in a way, Cecily was home having Sunday dinner with us.  The pasta was “Magnifico” just like we all remember and was the perfect complement to the chicken.

Chicken parmesan is basically three layers of deliciousness.  Seasoned pan fried chicken, fresh tomato sauce, finished with sharp parmesan cheese and melty-gooey mozzarella.  Do I really need to say anything more…

This is more of a guide than a recipe.  I say this because it is just about putting together the parts.

The bread crumb mixture can simply be a store bought seasoned Italian (which works fine) or you could make a mixture of crackers, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese; a ratio of 2 parts crackers to 1 part breadcrumbs and Parmesan (which is better).

So if someone were to ask me, How do you make Chicken Parmesan?  This is what I would say; 
1.       Pound Chicken
2.       Bread Chicken (see Kono’s Pork Milanese)
3.       Brown Chicken (It doesn’t have to be fully cooked it will finish in the oven)
4.       Top with Tomato Sauce (Easy Italian Tomato Sauce)
5.       Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese
6.       Top with mozzarella
7.       Bake (in a 400 degree oven for about 15 min. or until cheese has melted)
With that said, here's my recipe,

4              6 oz.      chicken breasts, pounded
½             cup         flour
3              large      eggs, beaten
2              cups       bread crumbs
2              cups       tomato sauce (recipe)
¼             cup         grated parmesan cheese
4              slices     mozzarella cheese or 1 cup shredded
                               Salt & Pepper

Place chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap or in a gallon size zip bag and pound chicken breast with the flat side of a meat mallet or a rolling pin, until they are about a ½ inch thick.

Heat a large skillet over med high heat.  Add about 2 Tbs. oil to the pan when ready to add chicken.

Make an assembly line with three shallow dishes (I use pie plates).  Put flour in one and season with salt and pepper, beat eggs in the second and bread crumbs in the third.  Dredge chicken in the flour, then egg and finish in the bread crumbs.  Evenly coat chicken pieces and shake off excess with each layer and shallow fry until golden brown (you don’t have to cook the chicken all the way, it will finish cooking in the oven).  Repeat until all the chicken is browned.

Top each chicken with about ¼ cup of tomato sauce, a good sprinkling of parmesan cheese and a slice of mozzarella cheese.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until cheese has melted and is bubbly.

Note***The easiest way to make this dish is if you have a large oven proof pan you can fry the chicken in, then place the whole pan into the oven to finish.  But if you don’t, transfer the chicken to a baking dish or sheet pan to finish in the oven.

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