Saturday, June 12, 2010
I know it's spring. I know I should be fawning over fresh peas and arugula and cooking things with bright citrusy flavors. But with the last vestiges of winter weather still in the air, I decided to make the ultimate comfort food: chicken parm. Its also a very homey dish to me (I picture Italian grandmothers making this for their entire extended families on Sunday afternoons), and this being my first dinner in the apartment, I found it appropriate.
Chicken Parmesan is usually made with chicken breasts pounded thin. There were chicken tenderloins in the freezer, so I used those instead. I didn't pound them because they were already pretty thin. I decided to saute the chicken, instead of frying it, for two reasons. 1) Health: Even if you do smother it in cheese, sauteed chicken at least sounds better for you. 2) Economy: I didn't want to use an entire bottle of oil.
To start, I heated a few tbs. of olive oil in a giant saute pan. I like my chicken parm garlicky, so I sliced up a large clove and put it in the oil just to give it some flavor. As the oil got hot, I got to chicken dunking: first in flour, then in egg, then in seasoned bread crumbs. I didn't want to crown the pan, so I cooked the chicken in two batches. I only cooked it until it was browned, then removed it to a plate.
Then I layered:
After 30 minutes in the oven, the cheese got all bubbly and slightly browned, and the chicken cooked through. We ate ours with asparagus (see I do know its spring!) and bread. Pasta would be more traditional, but the bread was perfect for sopping up the sauce and cheese, which was deliciously stringy and gooey. The chicken was very tender despite not pounding it and the breading was perfect, not too thick or soggy. The garlic gave it a nice sweetness to balance the acidity of the sauce.
1-1.5 lb. chicken tenders or chicken breast pounded thin
1 c. flour
1 tbs. milk
1 c. bread brumbs
2 tsp. Italian seasoning (feel free to use any combination of spices, or just get seasoned bread crumbs)
1-2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 jar tomato sauce (I used a homemade quick sauce, but any sauce you like will work)
1 large ball mozzarella, thinly sliced.
1. Preheat the oven to 400.
2. Set up three bowls near to the stove, the first with the flour, the second with the eggs and milk whisked together, and the third with the bread crumbs, seasoning, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Coat the bottom of a saute pan with oil and add the garlic. Heat the oil. Coat the chicken, in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Cook in batches until browned, being sure not to crowd the pan. Remove to a plate. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
3. Coat the bottom of a glass dish with olive oil. Spread out half of the sauce on the bottom. Place the chicken in in one layer. Pour on the remaining sauce. Cover the top with the mozzarella, and sprinkle on a good amount of Parmesan.
4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cheese begins to brown on top.