Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chicken Parm!!!

Today was a gorgeous fall day - almost spring-like in its temperateness, but also breezy with falling leaves. We spent most of the day doing badly-needed yardwork. My twelve-foot butterfly bush is now a manageable six feet, space was cleared for an extended 2011 vegetable garden, and the front garden was rearranged into ruliness (although Jeff claims we were simply rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic). Much was accomplished. Even more importantly, many calories were burned.

An active afternoon was a necessity - required by what was going to go down this evening. We made chicken parm. When we make chicken parm, it's a lot of food. A full chicken breast, pounded out and nestled in a bed of pasta. It's major.

Fortunately, today I managed to lighten things up. I've been trying to eat smaller portions of meat. I knew Jeff wouldn't be willing to sacrifice any part of his chicken parm, so instead I included only a tiny portion of pasta (only enough to wipe up the sauce) and a vegetable accompaniment - roasted cauliflower. This morning the farmer's market had some orange cauliflower. I've never tried the other varieties, so I jumped at the chance. The taste is essentially the same, although a bit milder, but the orange kind comes with extra vitamin A, which is always a good thing.

In the end, my efforts at lightening the meal weren't necessary anyway - the whole chicken breast was too much for me. I only ate about half. And I'm glad, for two reasons: now I have extra leftovers for tomorrow, and now I have more room for apple crisp later on!

Chicken Parmesan à la Jeff
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1/2 c plain bread crumbs (We prefer to use Italian, but I keep messing up at the store and buying plain, so  today we just added some Italian seasoning.)
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
~4 oz mozzarella cheese
~ half a jar of tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 350°.

Set up the breading area:
Spread flour, salt and pepper on a dinner plate. Combine bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and Parmesan and spread on another dinner plate. Whisk egg and milk together in a bowl. (These amounts should be adjusted to the amount of chicken you have. The flour and egg mixtures were just right for three chicken breasts, but there was probably enough bread crumbs for a fourth. Jeff ended up packing the extra crumbs onto the chicken anyway, but they would have been fine with a little less breading as well.) Coat the chicken in the flour, then in the egg, then in the bread crumbs. Make sure all sides are covered.

Brown the chicken:
Heat the oil in a deep-sided skillet (in case of splatter) over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken for about four minutes per side, then remove to a brown paper bag to drain. (I suppose you could use something else, but my mom always used brown paper grocery bags. Just make sure you're not putting the food on any printing, because the ink might leach into the food.)

Prepare the dish:
In a baking dish, pour a layer of sauce across the bottom (to taste - I like a lot of sauce, because I love how thick and flavorful the baking process makes it). Lay the chicken on top. Sprinkle about half the cheese on the chicken, add some more sauce, then sprinkle on the remainder of the cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Cool slightly and serve.

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