Time for another Italian classic… Chicken Parmesan!
“Reinvented” a bit. This one will knock your socks off.
Instead of your typical, pounded thin chicken, I use small cubes of chicken in my recipe. You make the tomato sauce yourself with the browned bits from the pan-fried chicken and finish the whole thing in the oven topped with ooey-gooey mozzarella and freshly grated parmesan.
This one hits the nail on the head… you’ve gotta try it.
Here’s what you need ready-to-go before you begin…
You’re looking at canned, diced tomatoes, chicken stock, chopped onions, minced garlic, cubed chicken breasts (boneless/skinless), and flour.
You start by heating up some…. okay, quite a bit, of olive oil over medium heat… don’t use extra-virgin! It will burn too easily! Be sure to use an oven-proof pan as it will be going into the oven at the end for just a few minutes to finish up the cooking and melt the cheese!
While the oil is heating, dredge each of the pieces in flour and shake off the excess. Set them in a bowl or on a plate until you’re ready to pan fry them.
You’ll want to do this in BATCHES! Don’t over crowd the chicken! I think I did three batches so I didn’t have too many chicken cubes in the pan to worry about at once… but you could do it in two batches if you think you’re up for the challenge.
Let them get brown and crispy on one side, flip them and let them do the same on the other side, and then let them drain on a paper towel… you’re looking at just 2-3 minutes per side!
As soon as all the chicken is browned, add in that chopped onion, minced garlic, and a bit of salt & pepper to the hot pan…
Be ready for a melt-in-your-mouth smell to permeate your kitchen. There’s nothing like it… olive oil, onion, and garlic… (sigh)
Sorry, I couldn’t speak… or write… for a moment there. Daydreaming.
Okay, so after a few minutes of CONSTANTLY stirring the mouth-watering onion-garlic mixture, turn up the heat and immediately add in some chicken stock to DEGLAZE the pan!! Use a wooden spoon to stir and scrape up all those browned bits from the bottom of the pan. This is where the flavor is!
Now it’s time to add in 2 cans of low-sodium, diced tomatoes with all the juices.
Stir this for a minute or so…
Then give it a taste and add a little bit more salt/ pepper as needed…
Add in a little granulated sugar to balance out some of the acidity of the tomatoes and a couple of bay leaves for flavor!
If you have fresh bay, USE THEM! If not, dried are great, too…
And now, for my “secret” ingredient that you will probably not have on hand… the leftover rind from a wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano…
When you DO buy this amazing cheese and you use it up… DO NOT throw away the rind!
Did you get that?!
Let me say it again… DO NOT throw away the rind!!
Stick it in a resealable plastic bag and put it in your freezer. You can toss it into a stew, soup, or sauce and it will add a flavor that everyone will ask… what is that… yep, that’s it. TRUST ME.
If you don’t have this on hand, the sauce will still be delicious so PRESS ON! If you happen to have a rind on hand… by all means, TOSS IT IN!
Now you bring the sauce to a boil, turn it down and let it simmer over medium-low to low heat for 30 minutes, uncovered….
I’d like to say you can just sit back and relax while the sauce simmers… but I would prep for the next steps if I were you!
Once you finish that, start cleaning the kitchen so you can relax AFTER you eat this Marvelous Mozzarella Meal!!
I never feel like cleaning the kitchen after I eat.
Or ever really… come to think of it.
But I don’t like to cook in a messy kitchen so…. there’s the rub.
THE PREP: Finely shred some mozzarella and parmesan. Then give a rough chop to some fresh parsley and do a chiffonade cut on some fresh basil
(Stack the leaves, roll them together in a little scroll, then slice them from right to left to get thin slices… this is called “chiffonade”)
You’ll also want to get a large pot of water boiling to make your spaghetti, linguine, or angel hair (what I used) to serve as a bed for your chicken parmesan.
Just toss the pasta with some butter after you drain it to keep the noodles from sticking together!
When the sauce is almost done simmering, pre-heat your oven… you need it at 500 degrees F!
After you’ve let the sauce simmer, add it all to a blender…
When I’m pureeing a HOT mixture like this I always take the precaution of putting a kitchen towel over the top of the tightly-closed lid, and I press one hand firmly down on top of that to be sure the lid doesn’t fly off and send hot liquid all over me!
Also, it’s a good idea to hit the pulse button 5-6 times just to give the hot mixture a start so all the heat rising up doesn’t explode all at once when you hit ‘BLEND’. After you’ve pulsed it, then you can blend it for 30 seconds or so and it should work just fine. The dish towel and holding down the lid are just precautions to make sure you don’t scald yourself!!
Once the sauce is pureed, pour it back into the pan and put it over low heat…
Now stir in the parsley and basil….
Then add the chicken pieces carefully throughout the sauce. Do this one piece at a time, arranging the pieces so that they evenly spaced throughout the sauce. Just set them in… you want a bit of the chicken to stick out of the sauce so don’t dump them all in at once! It takes a couple of minutes of your time, but go with it!
Now it’s time to sprinkle all that MOZZARELLA and parmesan evenly over the chicken and sauce….
Then pop it in the hot oven for a few minutes and…
Cheesy, wonderful goodness. This chicken is SOOOOO good!!
Finish by sprinkling a bit more parsley and basil over the top for some color and freshness!
About $3.00 per serving, but finding your chicken and other ingredients on sale (or in bulk) will definitely bring this price even lower! This is for 4 servings, but you may get more out of it depending on how hungry your eaters are.
Here is your handy-dandy RECIPE! No Shopping List this time… BUSY day for me… 🙂 ENJOY!
Happy Economical Eating!