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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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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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