bits and pieces

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Easy, Cheesey Chicken Parmesan - it's delizioso!

chicken parm.. emerging from the broiler a delicious, cheesey
It's not delivery, it's delizioso!

That's right, I'm coming back with Italian and references to bad commercials.

I'm so sorry. I have been a bad bad BAD blogger of late. I've started my new job and just been getting into the swing of things. I'm only now just emerging from the cloud of 'I'm-so-tired-I-can't-do-anything-after-work'. I've been cooking but I haven't been sharing which makes me a bad bad BAD blogger.

I've finally gotten into the swing of things and I've started biking to work which I think has helped my energy. Or at least helped it enough that I can blog! The worst part is that I've made some awesome things in the past month or so - I just haven't been cooking from recipe OR paying attention. I can't share if I have no idea what I'm doing! Note - I rarely have any idea what I'm doing at the start. I throw things madly into a pot like a merry little witch and some how food comes out. Double double, toil and trouble.. 

Just to make you mad, here's an annotated list of things I've made this month that I didn't share with you, my sweet, sweet dozen blogpals: I made tuna carpaccio, I made a rib-wich (of simpsons fame), I made a tropical lobster roll, I made THE BEST 5 layer veggie lasagna (this I will share later), and I learned how to make Leslie Stowe's raincoast crisps FROM SCRATCH. That's right - BAKE YOUR OWN RAINCOAST CRISPS. If you haven't had these yet - I demand you go to the store immediately. Yes they're 8$ crackers, but they're worth it. Or alternately try making mine (post forthcoming)!

But maitenent to le chicken parm. Chicken parm is never something I would make decide I was going to make and march to the grocery store if I didn't have the ingredients. Lover-boy picks him own meat when we go grocery shopping, and sometimes I lack the necessary inspiration. Last night I got home and went 'ugh.. chicken breasts'. They weren't marinated, I wasn't going to  bread and fry them (wrong), I didn't want to BBQ (sacrilege), and chicken breasts themselves are generally uninspiring. When I want an easy meal my mind always jumps to pasta. Because what is more delicious and easier than pasta? Maybe risotto but that's almost a pasta. Nevermind. Chicken parm jumped to mind as  something I hadn't made before, but something that would be easy(ish) and also look like I cared enough to put effort into dinner.

I always thought Chicken Parmesan sounded easy(ish) but I always suspected it was hard. It turns out I was right and wrong. This is an incredibly easy recipe to make, but it takes a couple pots and some attention. It's not a throw on, zone out, chow down - type of recipe. It's EASY. None of the techniques or steps are hard, and it's pretty fun to make but sadly you will have to pay SOME attention. But it's also SUPER good. Chicken, cheese, tomato sauce, pasta. CARBO LOAD! POWER BOOST! CHEESE IS GOOD!

you will note that this recipe is only for one. If the concept of cooking for one makes you question your existence/consider moving into a senior's home just so you'll have some friends to cook for I recommend you just double the recipe. Or you know, if you need more than 1 chicken parm. Doubling the recipe would work for that too. I cooked this while listening to Hall and Oates. I suggest you do as well.

1 chicken breast
1 cup of dried pasta - you might need a little more/less depending on the type of pasta.. just make enough pasta for one person listening to 'She's Gone'. 
A jar of tomato sauce. GASP!! NOT MAKING MY OWN SAUCE?! That's right. I get lazy all the time. Cooking really good tomato sauce is a pretty length process so I am never above using store bought. That said - I like to sex it up a bit with some red wine (duh) and some garlic powder and fresh basil. But that's obviously optional.
1/3 a cup of grated parmesan. I mean REAL parmesan - no sprinkle cheese (that stuff that comes in a shake bottle). 
1/3 cup of milk
1 egg
1/3 a cup panko or other less worthy bread crumbs
3 shakes of garlic powder
1 pinch of onion powder
1 tsp dried basil
lots of freshly ground black pepper
a bunch of extra cheese. I went raiding in my cheese-box (aka fridge) and pulled out some gouda and some bocconcini which is an odd but delicious combination of cheeses.  I grated a few tbsp of gouda and chopped a handful of bocconcini

other things you will need:
a frying pan - non-stick preferably
something heavy that you can smash with - a mallet, an empty mason jar, a rolling pin, etc
some saran wrap
a flipper/tongs
a bowl
a plate
a pot to cook your pasta in + a strainer
an oven safe dish to broil your finished product in 

  1. Put a salted pot of water on to boil. 
  2. Tear away one sheet of saran wrap. Put your chicken breast on top. Top with an additional piece of saran and then carefully bludgeon it. You're attempting to flatten it out a fair bit. It should still be about 3/4 inch thick - 1/2 inch thick, but you should be able to smash it down. 
  3. If your water is boiling, throw that pasta in and cook for 8 minutes or according to package directions. Once your pasta is done - drain it and rise with cold water. 
  4. In the pasta pot add as much sauce as is necessary to cover your pasta. NOTE - you should set aside half a cup of sauce as this will top your finished product. Add additional bits and pieces - wine, garlic, shallots, herbs, etc. I added a few dashes of garlic powder, some fresh basil and a good splash of wine. 
  5. Add your pasta to the pot and stir to combine and set aside. 
  6. In a bowl combine your egg and milk and beat for several seconds. On your plate dish out your panko, half your parmesan, a bit of garlic powder, dried basil, onion powder and salt n pepa. Then push it. Push it real good.Which is also known as swirling it around so it's combined. I'm pretty much too clever for my own good.
  7. Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan over medium/medium-high. The oil shouldn't smoke but your chicken should make that delectable sizzle when you lay it down.
  8. Dredge your chicken in the milk and then the breadcrumbly goodness. Don't be afraid to get in there and press as much breadcrumbs as you can onto that chicken. Place in pan. On an unrelated note - turn your broiler on.
  9. Cook your chicken for about 4 minutes per side. Check to ensure done-ness. The juices will run clear and there won't be any visible pink. Remove from heat and allow to rest for a minute or two. Then carefully slice it into inch wide strips.
  10. Dish your pasta + sauce combo into the oven proof dish. Top with crispy chicken goodness. Ladle sauce over chicken and cover with grated/chopped cheesey perfection. Go wild. Seriously. GO WILD. I used 3 kinds of cheese in a chicken parmesan. You will get no judgment from me. At least not when cheese is involved.
  11. Broil for 2 minutes or until cheese is melt-y and bubbles and golden-ing. That's right - melt-y is an adjective and golden-ing is a verb. 2 degrees at McGill gets you what now? A DELICIOUS CHICKEN PARMESAN! Take it out of the oven and don't burn yourself. Then enjoy. With wine.

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