Friday, January 13, 2006


So you think you know someone very well, and then WHAM! They surprise you with something unexpected. Andy and I have been together for about 8 years, and today for the first time I find out that Chicken Parmesan is his favorite food. His ultimate comfort food. And I had not known that, and I also had never prepared that. I guess things are changing. Today I returned to Giada's book, Everyday Italian for tonight's dinner inspiration. I gad pulled some frozen chicken breasts out of the freezer, and this was how I chose to use them.

What essentially drew me to this version of Chicken Parmesan was that it was lighter than other versions I had seen or had. Most parmesan recipes, whether they be chicken or veal, come with a breaded cutlet of meat. This one does not, and the freshness really shines here. I did make one error in preparing the recipe. :-) I read through the recipe earlier in the day and remembered thinking that I had all three of the fresh herbs called for in the recipe. I did, and when I started chopping and mixing, I chose the wrong three. It was an excellent mistake to make. So now I am adding a healthy handful of fresh basil to the list of ingredients in my book. Other changes I made were that I used a bottled marinara (although Giada's is good), and I also left off the butter called for in the baking. I don't know why it needed that?

I also chose to brown the chicken in a non-stick pan, and then transfer to a baking dish for the finishing. That worked just fine. I wanted to leave the excess fat from the oil in the frying pan, and while I may have lost a tiny bit of flavor, you would never know, and the end result was spectacular. So Chicken Parmesan now goes into regular rotation, and the major note I have to make is that I need to make more because Andy is in hog heaven when it comes to Chicken Parmsan. Some lightly steamed veggies capped off this meal, and I think everyone left the table happy and satisfied. (Well, except for Andy, who wanted more.)

Chicken Parmesan-recipe courtesy Giada DeLaurentiis, Everyday Italian

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves ( I added this part)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 (3-ounces each) chicken cutlets
1 1/2 cups Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows or purchased marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
16 teaspoons grated Parmesan (Actually used about half this amount)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces (Left off)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Stir the oil and herbs in a small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Brush both sides of the cutlets with the herb oil. Heat a heavy large oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add the cutlets and cook just until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the skillet from the heat.
Spoon the marinara sauce over and around the cutlets. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of mozzarella over each cutlet, then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of Parmesan over each. Sprinkle the butter pieces atop the cutlets. Bake until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes.

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.
Yield: 6 cups Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes Ease of preparation: easy

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