Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sauteed breaded boneless chicken breasts (p. 436),Chicken parmigiana (p. 437), and Eggplant parmigiana (p. 273)

I would absolutely love to write a very clever choose-your-own-adventure style post for this post but it's not going to happen--I'm not having a very creative day. In fact, I'm trying to pound out these posts as fast as I can so I can update my index and get an accurate idea of how far I am in the project. In fact, I should make that a contest--how far do you think I am in the book? Honestly, I would love to know what people think!

I decided to make two types of Parmesans (if I was in a place where I could easily find veal, I would have make all three types). I've never been much of a fan of chicken/veal/eggplant parmesan. They always seem to be bland, overbreaded, and covered in too much cheese and mediocre sauce. I didn't have particularly high hopes for the recipe.

The first step was to make Sauteed breaded boneless chicken breasts (p. 436).

I pounded the chicken breasts in a plastic bag. I always pound meat this way so that it doesn't fling bacteria-laden juices all over the kitchen and it really helps with clean-up.

I set out my three battering bowls. They included:
1. An egg with some water.
2. Bread crumbs, dried herbs, salt, and pepper. I omitted the Parmesan cheese so the end-product wouldn't get oversalted.
3. Flour.

I dredged the chicken in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs:

Don't skimp on the egg mixture--it barely stretched as far as I needed it to:

I fried them in olive oil:

They were finished very quickly. The main problem was that it was difficult to make sure the whole thing was cooked through before burning on the outside--and I had to keep adding olive oil because the breading soaked it right up. I'm not sure what the solution to this would be--maybe turning down the heat? But they wouldn't get as crispy with lower heat.

The chicken was nicely flavored. It was sort of boring on its own but would have been really good with some sort of dipping sauce (a nice honey mustard, for example).

I decided to transform them into Chicken parmigiana (p. 437). I spread mom's tomato sauce all over the bottom of a dish (the other dish was sauced for eggplant parmigiana).

I arranged the chicken in the pan, sprinkled them with grated Parmesan, and spooned the rest of the sauce over the top. I then topped it all with a little more Parmesan and some mozzarella.

I baked it for about thirty minutes:

Delicious! Have a light hand with the salt, though, because the Parmesan adds plenty. I think this recipe was balancing right on the edge of being too salty. Even so, the chicken parm was good, heated up really well, and even froze well. I think the recipe would be really easy to double or triple and make plenty for a group.

I decided to make it a double Parmesan day and make Eggplant parmigiana (p. 273) as well. After saucing the pan (as shown above) I spread fried eggplant, slightly overlapping the slices. I sprinkled mozzarella and parmesan cheese on the eggplant, along with oregano and pepper. I poured more sauce over the top and sprinkled a little parsley on it:

After about fifteen minutes in the oven the cheese was melted and it was bubbly:

I actually thought the eggplant parm was better than the chicken parm. Eggplant is one of the few veggies that can stand up to being fried, smothered with cheese and sauce, and still be recognizable as a vegetable (in my opinion). The creaminess of the eggplant was enhanced by the tangy sauce and the whole was even more delicious than the parts.

One note--have a very light hand with the salt. Both mozzarella and parmesan cheeses are salty and they can start overpowering the dish very quickly.

Anyone else made these recipes?

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