Welcome back to Quarantine Kitchen! I am beyond excited to share more fresh and delicious recipes with you throughout this year. As I sat back and pondered what to create for the first article of this new chapter, I thought about dishes that would bring everyone together. After the past year we have all endured, human connection, laughter, and riveting conversation are desired above all else. Cooking is a beautiful gift that not only allows you to blend deliberate planning and spontaneity, but also allows others to benefit from your creations. Italian cuisine is perfect for fostering a glowing connection among those seated at your kitchen table. Chicken parmesan especially comes to my mind, as its comforting yet flavorful nature suits both picky eaters and refined palettes.
Salted crispy chicken cutlets soak in a tangy tomato sauce while mozzarella cheese wraps them in a warm embrace. Moisture, flavor, and crispiness coexist to create this masterpiece. While this dish is simple in nature, many recipes leave you with a soggy crust, dry chicken, or a bland tomato sauce. Thus, I have perfected my own step-by-step recipe to leave you with a dish sure to please. I was fortunate enough to be able to present my dish to some highly esteemed critics this week prior to writing this. My six best friends and roommates, as well as the unit of lovely boys living above us, devoured dinner, leaving me with no leftovers to wrap up. I would say from their clean plates to their shining smiles that it was a smashing success. Gather your friends, lay out some table settings, and get cooking! I present to you my chicken parmesan:
Chicken Parmesan (I served alongside vodka sauce pasta and a Caesar salad)
(yields 6 servings)
For the chicken
3 chicken breasts (sliced in half for thinness, creating 6)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
⅓ cup of Italian bread crumbs
¼ cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce:
1 large yellow onion
Olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter
12 oz of San Marzano crushed tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of onion powder
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons of rosemary
1 tablespoon of dried sage
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
For the topping:
12 slices of mozzarella cheese (from a log or a ball)
Fresh chopped basil
For the sauce:
- Start by dicing the yellow onion and mincing the four garlic cloves.
- Add to a medium pot with olive oil and a tablespoon of butter.
- Saute for three minutes or until onions are translucent.
- Add in the crushed tomatoes, the onion powder, brown sugar, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, rosemary, dried sage, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Allow to cook on medium-high for five minutes and then turn down to a simmer for an hour.
For the chicken:
- Slice three chicken breasts in half in order to create thinner pieces (better for crispiness and even cooking).
- Whisk together eggs, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl.
- Place chicken pieces into the egg wash and cover them. Allow them to sit in the fridge for an hour. This is crucial as it will make sure that the breading sticks to the chicken and creates a crispy outer edge.
- Combine panko bread crumbs, Italian breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese on a platter-sized plate (allow for ample space for breading).
- Line another tray with paper towels to place the chicken on directly after frying.
- Fill a large and relatively deep frying pan with canola oil and heat on medium-high until the oil appears glossy.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the egg wash, one by one, and place directly into the breadcrumb mixture. Coat thoroughly, while tapping off excess breading to ensure it doesn’t bring down the oil temperature and create remnants in the pan.
- Place NO more than two breasts in the oil at once. Overcrowding the pan will also create a drop in oil temperature and not allow the chicken to reach a perfect crisp.
- Place chicken breasts in the hot frying oil and allow them to cook for three minutes a side or until golden brown.
- Repeat until all chicken breasts are coated and cooked.
- Move directly onto the paper towel–lined platter and salt immediately.
*Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pour ⅓ of tomato sauce mixture into the bottom of a large baking dish.
- Place crisp chicken breasts on top of the sauce.
- Pour the remainder of the sauce on top of each of the chicken pieces, making sure to cover them to keep the moisture locked in.
- Place two circular mozzarella slices on top of each breast.
- Allow chicken to bake for 20 on the middle rack in the oven (continue to check in with the pan and if the cheese appears to be burning, place tin foil on top).
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Chop fresh basil to garnish, as well as a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for a beautiful contrast on top of the red sauce.
I served the chicken with a simple vodka sauce pasta and a fresh Caesar salad! Enjoy!
Featured Graphic by Olivia Charbonneau / Heights Editor
Photos Courtesy of Alexandra Morin / Heights Staff