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A Classic Michelle Favorite for Her Birthday – Chicken Parmesan

Michelle’s birthday was earlier this week and with every birthday we have in our little family, the person celebrating gets to pick what they might like to have for their birthday meal. Since she travels a lot for business, she doesn’t always get the chance to enjoy a lot of home-cooked meals so I wanted to be sure to make something for her that I know she really enjoys. Since I typically do not make a lot of dishes that involve cheese or pasta and these are two of her favorites, it seemed only fair that I make one of her all-time favorite dishes for her birthday – chicken Parmesan. Chicken Parmesan is one of those meals that many people say they love but not it is often relegated to something you order out when you go to an Italian place and are not sure about what to get. The fact is that it is pretty easy for you to make on your own, requiring just a little bit of effort and ingredients, so that you can make a good meal. I used this recipe from Melissa Clark at New York Times Cooking this go around to turn out a flavorful meal.

Chicken Parmesan

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, turkey or pork cutlets (or use chicken thighs for even more flavor)

½ cup all-purpose flour

3 large eggs

2 to 3 cups panko bread crumbs, as needed

Kosher salt, as needed

Black pepper, as needed

Olive oil, for frying

5 cups Simple Tomato Sauce (see recipe below) or your favorite store-bought or homemade sauce

1 cup finely grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano

½ pound fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-sized pieces

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cutlets between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap. Using a kitchen mallet or rolling pin, pound the meat to even 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Place the flour, eggs and panko bread crumbs into three wide, shallow bowls. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Dip a piece in the flour, then the eggs (shaking off any excess), then coat with the panko. Repeat the process until all the meat is coated.

Fill a large skillet with 1/2-inch of the olive oil. Place the skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, fry the cutlets in batches, turning each halfway through the cooking process, until they are just golden brown in color, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the cutlets to a paper towel-lined plate.

Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle one-third of the Parmesan cheese over the sauce. Place half of the cutlets over the Parmesan and top the cutlets with half the mozzarella pieces. Top the cutlets again with half the remaining sauce, sprinkle with another third of the Parmesan, and repeat layering, ending with a final layer of sauce and Parmesan.

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake the cutlets until the cheese is golden and the casserole is bubbling, about 40 minutes. Let the chicken Parmesan cool a few minutes before serving.

For the Sauce:

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

¼ teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)

2 (28-ounce) cans whole or diced plum tomatoes

2 sprigs basil or 1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

¼ teaspoon black pepper

In a large, straight-sided skillet set over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until it is just lightly golden. Add the chile flakes if desired and cook for 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomatoes and the juices, basil or bay leaf, and salt and pepper.

Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thick and the tomatoes have mostly fallen apart, about 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed to keep the sauce at a steady simmer. If you are using whole plum tomatoes, mash them up with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to help them break down. Remove the sauce from the heat and discard the basil or bay leaf.

The recipe itself is quite simple; you just need to do some of the prep work to get the chicken ready for frying. I used as little oil as I could so that there is minimal grease and frying and the chicken turns out very nice and crisp thanks to the panko. The layering then becomes the key so that you can get a really nice mix of the Parmesan, crispy chicken, sauce and fresh mozzarella. The cooking process leaves you with very tender yet crispy chicken with a great blend of flavors. You could use breasts or thighs here or even use turkey or pork or eggplant instead if you prefer. The process is still the same no matter the protein. Pounding it flat helps to ensure even cooking overall. I served this with some pasta and having some nice crunchy bread or garlic bread and a salad to go with it can help to round out the meal. The recipe makes plenty (it says six servings, but I think there is more), and we had leftovers that make for great lunches or to have as a chicken Parmesan sandwich at another time. The sauce recipe is a nice one as well – very easy to make with a hint of heat – and it makes more than enough for the chicken, but you can always use your favorite tomato sauce from the store instead if you like.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on November 9, 2016 in Cooking, Dinner, Pasta, Poultry

 

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Is This the Best Chicken Parmesan Recipe Ever?

I admit I am no real expert when it comes to any type of Italian cooking. Since I don’t eat cheese or pasta myself I am hard one to ask to judge whether the dish is good or not so I have to rely on my pasta and cheese eaters Sean and Michelle to let me know whether the dish is worth making again or not. I had seen this recipe for chicken Parmesan on the Internet from Serious Eats that says it is the best chicken Parmesan recipe out there and was curious about it. What makes this recipe better than any other. in my opinion, chicken Parmesan is a pretty basic dish on its own that anyone can make pretty successfully, so what made this one stand out? The difference with this seems to lay in the use of a buttermilk brine for the chicken and a whole lot of Parmesan cheese in the breading, along with some buttermilk in the breading to change things up. The results were pretty impressive.

The Best Chicken Parmesan

3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 3/4 cups buttermilk, divided

2 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 loaf crusty Italian bread, crust removed, sliced into 1/2 inch slices

5 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

1 quart tomato sauce, homemade or your favorite store-bought brand

10 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, basil or a mix of herbs

With a sharp knife, split the chicken breasts in half horizontally. Working with one piece at a time, place the chicken inside a plastic zipper-lock bag and pound the chicken with a meat pounder or the bottom of a heavy skillet until the chicken is an even thickness of about 1/4-inch. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl and repeat the process until all of the chicken pieces have been pounded.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk and the minced garlic to the bowl with the chicken. Season with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Turn the chicken with your hands until the salt, pepper and garlic are evenly incorporated and all of the chicken is coated in the buttermilk mixture. Transfer the contents of the bowl to a large zipper-lock bag, press the air out of the bag and seal the bag. Refrigerate the chicken for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Meanwhile, place the Italian bread slices on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Leave out the bread on a counter for at least 4 hours and up to overnight until it is mostly dried. The next day, break the bread into rough pieces and combine the bread with 4 ounces of Parmesan cheese in a food processor. Season the mixture with black pepper. Process the bread until it is finely ground, about 20 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a large shallow bowl or pie plate.

Place the flour in a second shallow bowl or pie plate. Whisk the eggs, 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk and 1 tablespoon of the flour in a third pie plate. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk over the breadcrumb/Parmesan cheese mixture and incorporate it with your fingertips. The mixture should be mealy, but hold together in clumps if you squeeze it together with your hands.

Working with one piece of chicken at a time, remove a piece of chicken from the bag and add it to the flour. Turn the chicken to coat it, shaking off any excess, and then add it to the egg mixture. Turn the chicken to coat it, letting the excess egg mixture drip off, and then add it to the breadcrumb mixture. Turn the chicken to coat it, piling crumbs on top of the piece and pressing down firmly so a thick layer of breadcrumbs adheres to the chicken piece. Transfer the coated chicken to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet and repeat the process with the remaining chicken breast pieces.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the sauce in a medium saucepan and heat it over low heat, stirring occasionally until it is barely simmering. Remove the sauce from the heat and set it aside.

Heat the vegetable or canola oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat until the oil registers 375 to 400 degrees on an instant-read or deep-frying thermometer. Working in batches so you do not crowd the skillet, carefully add the chicken pieces by lowering the cutlets away from you into the oil. Add as many cutlets as will fit in one layer (depending on the size of your skillet, this can be anywhere from 2 to 4 pieces). Cook, swirling the pan gently and using a thin flexible spatula to loosen the chicken if it sticks, until the chicken is golden brown and crisp on the bottom side, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using a thin metal spatula and a fork, carefully flip the chicken and cook until it is golden brown on the second side, about another 2 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and repeat the process with the remaining chicken pieces.

Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce onto the bottom of a casserole or oven-safe serving dish. Shingle the chicken pieces on top of the sauce. Top the chicken with more sauce, forming a line down the center. Combine the mozzarella cheese and the remaining 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese in a large bowl and toss to coat. Lay the cheese mixture over the chicken in a straight line down the center. Transfer the dish to the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and immediately grate fresh Parmesan cheese on top. Allow the dish to rest for about 3 minutes, top with the chopped herbs and serve immediately.

I did try a little bit of the chicken and I have to immediate using the buttermilk brine does improve the overall flavor and the tenderness of the chicken. Sean and Michelle both really enjoyed the breading on the chicken and the cheese combination of the mozzarella and the Parmesan was just right for the meal. As I said, I am not an eater of dishes like this, so I did have a piece of chicken I kept separate with just the breading and I thought it was great. They both enjoyed the meal over pasta and I served it alongside of the onion focaccia bread I had made. I would certainly do this recipe again, though you do need to plan this one ahead to do the brining if you want the taste difference.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

chicken parm

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Pasta, Poultry

 

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Mother’s Day Dinner Part 2 – Chicken Parmesan

For the second recipe that I made for Mother’s Day, we selected another meal from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook. This time it was a more updated version of chicken Parmesan. We wanted to make something that was not cooked directly in the tomato sauce as I have found that this can make the breading on the chicken quite soggy. I prefer to have it crisp along with the baked cheese on top. This recipe seems to fit all of these requirements. I used the exact same tomato sauce recipe as I had posted yesterday with the eggplant Parmesan.

Updated Chicken Parmesan

Recipe for Tomato Sauce (See yesterday’s post)

4 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 large eggs
Salt and pepper
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup), plus extra for serving
8 ounces spaghetti

Adjust an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Halve the chicken horizontally, then cut each half down the middle to create four pieces. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and pound each piece to an even 1/4-inch thickness with a meat pounder.

Lightly beat the eggs and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt together in a shallow dish or a pie plate. Combine the breadcrumbs, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a second dish. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with one cutlet at a time, coat each piece with the egg mixture, allowing any excess to drip off. Coat all sides of the cutlet with the breadcrumb mixture, pressing gently so that the crumbs adhere. Transfer the breaded cutlets to the prepared wire rack.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches, place the cutlets in the skillet and cook until a deep golden brown and crisp on the first side, about three minutes. Flip the cutlets, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook until they are a deep golden brown and crisp on the second side, about two minutes longer. Transfer the cutlets to a clean wire rack set in a baking sheet and repeat the process until all the cutlets have been cooked. Sprinkle the cutlets evenly with mozzarella and Parmesan. Broil the cutlets until the cheese is melted and spotty brown, about three minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon of salt and cook, stirring often until al dente. Drain the pasta. Serve the chicken with the pasta, spooning sauce over individual portions and passing the Parmesan separately.

I did change up the recipe just a bit. After slicing the chicken horizontally, I cut it again to make smaller portions. If you want the larger portions, just eliminate the second cut.The nice thing about this recipe, besides the fact that it did not take long to cook it all, is that some people don’t like the chicken drowning in tomato sauce. This gave them the opportunity to have the chicken with as much sauce as they like or with no sauce at all. The chicken came out very crispy and tasted great.

That’s the recipe for today. Tomorrow I will post the recipe I used for the sausage and peppers that I made. I have made sausage and peppers many times in the past and posted another recipe on my blog here, but this one I found does everything exclusively in the oven, and I think it turned out much better. Check back tomorrow to see if you like it. Later on in the week I will also have recipes that I used for a wilted spinach salad and a simple tomato and mozzarella cheese appetizer. Until the next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Cookbooks, Cooking, Dinner, Holidays, Pasta, Poultry

 

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Pass the Parmesan Paninis!

I’ve had a few people ask me about sandwich recipes and trying to find some new ones. I am always on the lookout for a new sandwich recipe since it’s one of my favorite meals. They are perfect for busy weeknights, but you like to be able to vary things and offer some that are new and different. I happen to catch this one from Williams-Sonoma a few days ago and it sounded too good to pass up. We all love chicken parmesan, so why not have it on a sandwich that’s a Panini?

Chicken Parmesan Panini

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing

4 sandwich rolls, split (I am using ciabatta rolls, a personal favorite)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup dry bread crumbs

3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 1/3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

1 cup tomato sauce

Butterfly the chicken breasts, cut each one in half, and pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the 1 cup of oil to 350 degrees. Brush the rolls on both sides with oil. Preheat an electric Panini press to medium. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Put the flour and the eggs in separate breading trays or bowls. in another tray or bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip the chicken into the eggs, letting the excess drip off. Place the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing gently so the crumbs adhere.

Place 2 chicken pieces in the hot oil in the skillet and fry, turning once, until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat to fry the remaining chicken.

Place 1 piece of chicken on the bottom of each roll and top with 1/3 cup mozzarella, 1 tablespoon of basil and 1/4 cup tomato sauce. Cover with the top halves of the rolls. Place two of the sandwiches on the preheated panini press, close the lid and cook until the cheese has melted, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board and cut in half. Repeat to cook the remaining sandwiches. Serve immediately.

You could make several sides to go with the sandwiches, like a simple salad, or a little bit of pasta. I personally think the salad is perfect to go along side of the sandwich. Either by themselves or with a side, I think they make a great, easy meal. If you don’t have a panini press, no big deal, You could just make these as sandwiches or heat them in a skillet like you would a grilled cheese sandwich.

That’s today’s simple dinner. Tomorrow night I am making Turkey Chili, so you can check back for that one. It’s a family favorite around here and I always make extra to freeze some for another day. Make sure to come back tomorrow to check out the recipe. Until then, enjoy your evening and enjoy your meal!

 
 

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