Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chicken Parmesan(Veal as well)

The bad thing is that breading anything for frying is a bit messy. It is not overpowering though as long as you are organized. The good thing is you are not deep frying here. Less mess, less waste and easier to clean up in this recipe.
I have an aversion to cooking baby animals. I avoid Veal and Lamb at all costs. I have no issue with others who eat them, after all this has been going on for millenia, but I just opt out.
I went to a well respected hotel and it's attached restaurant recently. It was really a seafood restaurant. I ordered Chicken Parmesan. I should know better. If they are not sensitive to Italian foods and especially chicken, I have only myself to blame. The chicken was a whole breast with crumbs. It was over fried because it was so thick. They had to fry it forever because it would not have cooked in the middle otherwise. The sauce was half cooked(diced tomato with calcium cloride). It was perhaps not my worst experience with Chicken Parm, but I expected more from a nice restaurant.
I have already discussed tomato sauce, but you could do a very simple Marinara for this...I am hoping someone will send me a couple more sauces, but we can work with the ones I have already posted.

There are no specific amounts here. Chicken, these days, can be very unpredictable. I have cooked chicken recently that must have been right out of a Jules Verne movie. I did Chicken Parm tonight, and John could not finish the single half breast I made for him. This thing filled the bottom of my chicken fryer completely and that is 10 1/2 inches across.
Neatness does not necessarily count when it comes to the outline of the cutlet. It will be hard to come out of this with a neat round or oval. You may wish to remove the tender from the breast and use it for something else, or cook it separately in this recipe breading them individually or even pounding the devil out of several together so they become a single cutlet.

Lay out three plates and a bowl on your counter, near your stove.

In the first plate, put a cup or so of flour and hold some out in a second container to replenish the supply as you use it up.

In the second plate, make a layer of finely grated Parmesan cheese. Powder fine grating not the shreds. Keep extra on the side for when you run out.

In the third plate, put a layer of PLAIN bread crumbs(Pani Caliatu if you can). This is one recipe where you should avoid Panko. Keep an extra supply of this as well.

In the bowl, beat one egg for each large cutlet you plan to coat and add a couple of Tablespoons of cold water for each.

Place your boneless chicken breast on a flat surface. You may put it between layers of plastic wrap if you like, but it is easier, I think, just on a surface that does not absorb the chicken juices. Marble and Granite are good choices but watch out if you are pounding with a bottle(see note). Using the textured surface, pound with a meat hammer gently.(if you do not have a meat hammer, just use a very thick champagne bottle) You are trying to flatten the breast till it is all equal in thickness and well tenderized, but try not to make hamburger out of it. Start in the middle and work outwards with glancing blows that will spread the cutlet. Using English...sort of.

Lay the meat into the flour, and try to cover all surfaces. Press it in, but do not leave more than a nice dusting everywhere. No caking.

Place the meat into the egg and get it completely covered.

Lay it into the cheese. It is hard to get a perfect coating of the cheese, and it is not necessary.

Lay it back into the egg to coat again.

Now you finish by coating in bread crumbs. Leave it in the crumbs while you heat a large skillet with a heavy coating of olive oil. It should be hot, but not above say, medium.

Cook till the first side is nicely browned(You do not have to cook the chicken completely through) and turn with tongs or a large spatula. Brown the second side. Do not over brown.

You can be working on pounding, and coating the second cutlet as you fry the first and continue till all the cutlets are fried.

As you take the cutlets out of the pan, put them in a large, (very)lightly oiled baking dish...I mean large as these cutlets will be do not want these to be overlapped any more than necessary.

Place the pan(s) into a 350 degree oven to bake while you are heating your pasta water and slicing your Mozzarella.

I slice a ball of Buffalo Mozzarella for every two breasts. You can also use shredded Mozzarella, though the quality is lower.

Remove the Chicken from the oven when you are sure the chicken is cooked through(Just not overcook)and spread half to one cup of tomato sauce on top of each breast. Lay a few slices of Mozzarella on top and allow to melt while the pasta is cooking. Serve one(half boneless) breast per person. This may not seem like much for a big eater, but the egg, cheese and breading give you plenty to eat.

About Salt.
To be sure of your salt, you may profit from coating a small scrap of chicken and frying it up before continuing with the rest of the chicken. You can decide then if you need to add salt to the crumbs. Be careful, as the cheese is already salty.

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