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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chicken Parmesan

I've been working on a new method for cooking chicken.  I always seem to burn chicken when I cook it on the stove and it never gets the color I like when I cook it in the oven.  I read somewhere (and honestly, don't ask me where because I have completely forgotten) that if you start meat on the stove and finish it in the oven that you get the color without burning it.  I tried it with my Blackened Chicken on my birthday and it seemed to work well.

Aaron's dad loves when I make Chicken Parmesan.  I usually just fry it in the skillet and serve it with pasta, but last night I put my new method to the test.  I let the chicken get golden in the pan and then transferred it to the oven to finish cooking.  I even topped it with a little shredded mozzarella.  It was a huge improvement!  As soon as Aaron took his first bite he said how yummy it was (which always makes me feel good, not because I need the ego boost, but because I so frequently make things that just aren't on the list of things he likes to eat that I feel better when I finally make something that he's eating because he enjoys it and not just because he's hungry) and his mom skipped the pasta and ate an entire huge chicken breast.

I'll warn you, this method is made infinitely easier with the use of a remote digital meat thermometer.  I got mine for Christmas from Dad or I wouldn't have one.  You just insert the probe into the meat, put it in the oven and close the door.  When your meat is done the remote receiver beeps.  Now, Aaron said last night that a real cook doesn't need a thermometer to know when meat is done.  I was slightly offended, but then I realized something:  It's not a "real cook" or a "good cook" who doesn't need a thermometer to know when meat is done.  It's an experienced cook who doesn't need the thermometer.  I'm a less experienced cook (and not a highly trained one having learned most of what I know from watching cooking shows on television, watching my parents cook, and experimenting on my own) and therefore benefit greatly from the use of the thermometer.

You could use a timer instead.  I timed how long it took to reach the correct temperature, but since every oven/cut of meat is different the time will vary slightly.  I will give you my best estimates on times.  Please try this technique.  It has made for some of the most moist chicken we have ever eaten.

Chicken Parmesan

4 chicken breasts
2/3 cup bread crumbs (we like the roasted garlic flavor but you could use plain or Italian flavored)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg, beaten
vegetable oil for frying
4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

In a wide, shallow bowl combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.  (I like to use a pie pan because the sides are high and the pan is wide enough to accommodate an entire chicken breast.)

Beat the egg in a bowl and arrange the counter in an assembly line fashion.  You will want the chicken on one end, followed by the egg, the bread crumb mixture, and finally an empty plate to put the breaded chicken on.

Using one hand dip a chicken breast into the egg and make sure it is completely coated in egg.  Allow the excess to drip off, then lay the chicken in the bread crumbs.  Using your dry hand, toss bread crumbs around the chicken until it is completely coated.  Try to keep the hand with the egg from touching the bread crumbs if possible, and use the dry hand to press the bread crumbs onto the chicken.  Set the breaded chicken onto the clean plate and continue the process until all of the chicken is breaded.  Allow the chicken to rest for about 10 minutes after breaded before frying.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  If you do have a thermometer you will want your oil at 350 degrees.  If the oil is too hot the breading will burn; if it is too cold the breading will absorb too much oil and you will end up with a greasy mess.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a small baking sheet with vegetable oil spray.

Once the oil is at the right temperature carefully place 2 of your chicken breasts into the pan.  Fry for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until the breading is golden brown.  Remove from the oil onto a plate layered with paper towels.  Repeat for the other 2 chicken breasts.

Move the chicken to the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven and sprinkle each chicken breast with some of the mozzarella cheese.

Return the chicken to the oven and continue cooking until the cheese is brown and bubbly.  Allow to rest about 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with pasta and marinara or Alfredo sauce (or both if you're like me and like pink sauce with chicken Parmesan) and garlic bread.

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