Tuesday, September 3, 2013

♥ Chicken Parmesan

One of my Dad's favorite meals and I enjoy cooking it for him when he comes for dinner. Tender, moist chicken breast battered in light and crispy panko and fried until just brown. Then topped with a homemade Marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese. He just left with some extra to take home for the weekend. Click on photo for drool mode!

Chicken Parmesan

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups panko
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into thin slices

Cut each chicken breast in half horizontally. Place 1 piece between 2 sheets of plastic wrap pound to an even thickness about 1/2 inch thick with a meat pounder or the bottom of a pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken. Season the chicken generously on both sides with salt and pepper; set aside.

Place the flour in a wide, shallow dish, season well with salt and pepper, and mix; set aside. Combine the milk and eggs in another shallow dish and mix until the eggs are broken up; set aside. Mix the panko and Parmesan together in a third shallow dish.

To bread the chicken, dredge a breast in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Next, coat it in the egg mixture and let the excess drip off. Finally, press it into the panko mixture until it’s well coated. Set the breaded chicken on a large plate or baking sheet and repeat with the remaining breasts.

Line a clean baking sheet with paper towels and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken in batches (don’t overcrowd the pan) and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining chicken.

While frying the last batch of chicken, bring the tomato sauce to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once warmed through, stir in 1/4 cup of the basil and reserve the rest for garnish. Remove the paper towels and place the chicken directly on the baking sheet. Divide the mozzarella slices evenly among the breasts and place under the high heat of the broiler until the cheese is golden and bubbly. (Rotate the baking sheet as needed for even browning.) Keep an eye on it as the cheese can burn quickly.

To serve, add your favorite pasta. Then ladle 1/2 cup of your favorite marinara sauce onto each plate, top with chicken, and sprinkle with the remaining basil.

Simple Tomato Sauce:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
4 to 6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and simmer covered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.

Add half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.
If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.

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