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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chicken Parmeseano - mangiare!

Mmmm Chicken Parm. It's one of my favorite things and strangely enough, not something I make very often. Mental note... make chicken parm more often! Since I made sauce this week, and then saw someone on TV making Chicken Parmesan, I got a bee in bonnet and decided I had to have it.

Start out with boneless skinless chicken breasts. You can buy already flattened chicken cutlets if you don't want to do the added step of flattening out the breasts yourself, but this really is not a difficult step. Lay a chicken breast on a cutting board vertically. Hold down with one hand (I'm a righty so I hold down with my left and cut with my right). Take your knife and slice right through the middle of the breast. Note dorky watch tan line on my left arm. This is what happens when you stick your arm out of the car window when driving. Sheesh, I look like Hank Hill!!

Take sliced chicken breast and place on a piece of plastic wrap and then cover with another piece of plastic wrap. Then with a meat mallet or a heavy bottomed pan, pound the chicken breast until it is all the same thickness. Don't beat the hell out of the breast, but pound it hard enough to flatten it. It doesn't take much.

Now set up your breading station. I use pasta bowls but if you have three pie plates, they work very well. The first will have flour. You can season the flour, or not. That's up to you. The second will have beaten eggs. The third is bread crumbs. I use a combination of regular bread crumbs and Panko. To the bread crumbs I add my own seasonings.... Italian seasoning, dried parsley, salt, pepper and the secret ingredient Grandma taught me... ground fennel. I actually buy fennel seed and grind them myself. I can hear you asking me measurements already. I'm going to have guess so I'll say, a cup of flour in the first. Two large eggs in the second. One cup of regular bread crumbs and 3/4 cup of Panko in the third. The seasonings are up to you, but a good ratio would be two Tablespoons of Italian seasoning, three Tablespoons of dried parsley and about one Tablespoon of ground fennel. The fennel really brings something special to the breading but if you don't like that flavor, you can always use sesame seeds instead. And about a quarter cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

Place the chicken breast in the flour and make sure all of it is covered then shake off the excess. From there it's into the egg, dip it in and make sure the whole thing gets coated. And from there, into the bread crumbs. Same deal, make sure the whole thing is coated. My Grandma taught me that if you do this step the night before, and refrigerate the chicken, the coating will not fall off in the pan. She's right, I've tried it. This time, I didn't think ahead, but the coating did adhere pretty well anyway.

Heat two Tablespoons of olive oil and two Tablespoons of butter in a pan. When heated, add chicken to the pan. Don't overcrowd the pan. Lightly brown on each side. You won't cook it all the way through. You just want to get the meat browned.

Remove to a sheet pan and place in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350.

When I'm not making huge amounts, I clean the pan after each batch because the breadcrumbs that fall off in the pan start to burn and can stick to your next batch of chicken. That's not yummy.

After 20 minutes in the oven, place cheese (you can use mozzarella or provolone) on the chicken breasts and put back until just melted. Serve with spaghetti and sauce on the chicken.

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