Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Chicken breasts that is.
Whenever you want a tender, perfectly cooked breaded chicken breast, I highly recommend pounding them to an even thickness. They cook quickly and evenly this way, and the crust gets delightfully crispy without the steam build up that can cause the crust to fall off.
This was the first dish I ever mastered. In college, I was so fed up with tepid, brown and unrecognizable cafeteria food, that I started buying food magazines and pouring through them, cover to cover. Before that time, I knew how to cook, but chose not to. Suddenly I couldn't stop thinking about it. So voluntarily immersed in food that I would dream about cooking, whenever the occasion arose to use a friends or relatives kitchen I snatched at it, and quickly became known as the resident foodie. When visiting my aunt and uncle in Florida, I made them this scaloppine dish, alongside a sundried tomato quick bread (back then I was afraid of yeast), and we finished with a Grand Marnier creme brulee. (BTW - I've noticed do not have any recipes for creme brulee posted - oh the horrors! Since it is my go to dessert for dinner parties I will be remedying this shortly!) They loved it and offered to fly me down whenever I wanted to cook for them!
This dish never fails to impress, even know that I'm known as a seasoned cook. Because everyone's had some version of Chicken Parmesan, they're all the more impressed to discover how good this classic can be. Plus, it takes next to no time to cook, making it an easy weeknight dinner (we're talking about 20 minutes here people!).
Scaloppine Parmigiana de Pollo
4 chicken breasts, marinated in Italian dressing overnight
(Chicken is cheaper when bought in bulk. When I get home from the store, I separate my "club pack" into quart size freezer bags with 2 or 4 chicken breasts each, and pour in Italian dressing or other marinades, then I freeze it. Take it out of the freezer the night before to defrost, and as it thaws it will marinate! I love this trick!)
1 large egg
1 egg white
1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmigianno reggiano
2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp olive oil
(OK- so I never claimed this was low fat!)
1 lb. spaghetti
1 cup 4 Cheese Italian shredded cheese blend (or grated your own mozzarella, provolone, asiago and parmesan)
1/4 cup parmiggiano reggiano
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
2 Tbsp crushed garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup good dry red wine
2 Tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
additional parsley, basil and parmiggiano for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 300 F. Pound chicken breasts flat between 2 sheets of plastic wrap using a meat mallet. You want them between a 1/2 inch and a 1/4 inch thick.
Place a stockpot 3/4 full with water on the stove on high to bring it to a boil. Use a lid to help it come to a boil faster.
Meanwhile, beat egg and egg white together in a shallow dish. In a seperate shallow dish, mix together dry ingredients for the breading. In a large nonstick skillet over high heat (yes - this needs to be turned ALL the way up!), combine butter and oil and preheat. Dredge Each piece of chicken in egg, then breadcrumbs, then place directly in the pan.
Cook on high until one side is golden brown, then flip and repeat. This should only take about a minute per side if you've pounded it thin. While they're cooking, you water should come to a boil and you can start cooking your spaghetti (I recommend heavily salting the water). Transfer chicken to a pyrex baking dish and top each breast with 1/4 cup cheese blend and sprinkle with parmiggiano. Place in oven for the cheese to melt.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on the spaghetti. Drain off any remaining oil and combine the sauce ingredients, except for the fresh herbs, in the skillet you used for the chicken. Simmer until spaghetti is done, drain spaghetti, then toss with sauce and herbs.
When the cheese has melted, serve chicken alongside pasta with some extra sauce on top. If your cheese has not melted by the time your pasta is ready, treat it to a little intense heat under the broiler until it's nice and bubbly.