Monday, December 8, 2008

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parmesan (or parmigiana for you high-falutin’ folks) is a long-time favorite of mine, and I have at least a dozen recipes. With sautéed chicken, fried, broiled, baked, grilled, etc. I’m like the Forrest Gump of chicken parmesan.

This recipe is a revised version of the first chicken parmesan I ever made. It was several years ago when I was first learning to cook, and the recipe seemed utterly complicated at the time. Frying anything but an egg was terrifying for me. How on earth did you cook something through without charring the outside? I was so paranoid that the recipe took a lot longer than it should have, and the chicken was a bit charred on the outside. But when I took the first bite, it was still an epiphany. It tasted just like something I could get in a restaurant!

I’ve made a few modifications since then to suit my tastes. I pound the chicken thinner. (And I don't char it.) I don’t drench the chicken with sauce. I prefer fresh mozzarella to shredded. (My life hasn’t been the same since I discovered fresh mozzarella.) And, at least to me, this tops any restaurant version I’ve tried any day of the week. And twice on Sunday, darn it.

I’ll likely post other versions of chicken parmesan, but this is my classic version, and probably my favorite. It’s also not THAT bad for you. (The chicken is cooked in a few measly tablespoons of oil.) And, it’s fast, so it comes together quickly for a weeknight meal. Perfect for feeding the hubby when he comes in from snowblowing and shoveling in those 9-below wind chills.

Chicken Parmesan
Serves 2

8 oz .pasta (I prefer spaghettini; it's dainty, like me)
2 chicken breast halves
2 Tbsp. oil
1/3 c. Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 c. pasta sauce
Sliced fresh mozzarella or shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat your broiler (use the low setting, if you have one). Note that the broiling step is optional; you can just sprinkle your chicken with cheese and let it melt. (I like a thicker slab of broiled cheese.)

2. Change out of your pretty white shirt and put on something that won’t show the tomato sauce splatters.

3. Cook pasta as directed on package.

4. Meanwhile, trim chicken of any visible fat. Because chicken fat is nasty. Place chicken inside a piece of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, a rolling pin, a frying pan, or some other heavy object, pound the chicken until it is between ¼” and ½” thick all around.

The plastic wrap will help keep the chicken from falling apart, so go ahead and pound hard. The chicken won’t hit back. I promise.

5. Preheat oil in a 12” skillet over medium heat. You can use any light-colored oil (like vegetable oil.)

6. Combine breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, and place on a plate.

7. Dip chicken first in eggs, and then coat on both sides with breadcrumb mixture.

8. Place chicken in pan. Fry until chicken is golden and crispy, and cooked through, about 10 minutes on each side.

9. Meanwhile, heat sauce in a small saucepan.

10. When chicken is cooked, spray a small baking dish with cooking spray, and place chicken in dish. Top each piece with a few spoonfuls of sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Broil about 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. You can sprinkle with some parsley to make it purty.

11. Serve pasta topped with additional sauce and chicken.

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