Saturday, March 7, 2009

Parmesan Chicken

Source: The New Best Recipe

A couple of lessons to be learned from this one. FIRST, if you are brining, note how many chicken pieces you are using. Being that I cook for two, I used 2 chicken breasts, and I thought the recommended brine made the breasts a little too salty.

Second, I thought this was delicious, but my goodness was it a long recipe. Between the brining, drying, coating, setting the breaded cutlets out to dry, it seemed like it took a long time and a lot of effort to make these! Not to discourage anyone, but know what you're getting into :) It's not a weeknight dinner. But if you want to spend a little extra time making chicken Parmesan, it's worth it.

I also noticed as I was typing out the recipe it said to use a nonstick pan, which I did not. There aren't many recipes that call for a nonstick pan in The New Best Recipe. I couldn't find the reason WHY to use a nonstick, but I guess I will try that in the future.

Chicken Parmesan

Smooth Tomato Sauce
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt and ground black pepper

Chicken and Pasta
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup table salt
Ground black pepper
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
8 ounces spaghetti or linguine
2 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. For the sauce: Heat the garlic and oil together in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat until the garlic starts to sizzle. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, oregano, sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2 grinds of pepper, and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the sauce thickens and the flavors meld, 10 to 12 minutes. Taste the sauce, adjusting the salt if necessary. Cover and keep warm.

2. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Adjust an oven rack to the top position and heat broiler.

3. Meahwhile, if not already, pound the chicken cutlets until 1/2 inch thick. Dissolve the salt 1 quart water in a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Add cutlets and seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Refrigerate until the cutlets are fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels.

4. Remove the cutlets and lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover with another triple layer of paper towels and press firmly to absorb the moisture. Allow to dry for 10 minutes. Carefully peel off the paper towels. Sprinkle with pepper to taste and set aside.

5. Place the bread crumbs in a pie plate. Spread the flour in a second shallow dish. Beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a third shallow dish. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet.

6. Working with one at a time, dredge the cutlets thoroughly in the flour, shaking off the excess. Using tongs, dip both sides in the egg mixture, taking care to coat thoroughly and allowing the excess to drip back into the dish to ensure a very thin coating. Dip both sides of the cutlets in bread crumbs, pressing the crumbs with your fingers to ensure an even, cohensive coat. Place the breaded cutlets in a single layer on the wire rack and allowing the coating to dry for about 5 minutes.

7. Add the salt and noodles to the boiling water and stir to separate. Heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Lay 2 cutlets gently in the skillet and cook until deep golden brown and crisp on the first side, about 2 /12 minutes. Using tongs, turn the cutlets, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until meat feels firm when pressed gently and the second side is deep golden brown and crisp, about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.  Repeat until all cutlets are cooked.

8. Preheat your oven broiler. Transfer cutlets to clean wire rack over a baking sheet. Top each with 3 tablepoons of mozzarella and 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Place the baking sheet under the broiler and broil until the cheeses melt and are spotty brown, about 3 minutes.

9. Drain the spaghetti. Transfer cutlet to a plate and with a portion of spaghetti. Top cutlet and spaghetti with marinara. Top with additional Parmesan if desired. Serve and enjoy!

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