RECIPE #175, DAY #213
ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Slamma Jamma Chicken Parmigiana” from Guy Fieri’s Guy on Fire*
TIMING: 30 minutes or less; much quicker than I anticipated
TOOLS: A cast iron skillet, a baking sheet, tongs, etc.
COOK TYPE: Stovetop
HEALTH: Um… there is an insane amount of cheese involved in this recipe. So I did cut that back. But then you have white breading and oil and the traditional paring with pasta. Let’s say this: it’s not the worst thing for dinner (especially paired with polenta and a green veggie), and it’s not the best.
EXPERIENCE: Finally got out into the snow and to the grocery store. Turns out, I was sicker than I realized, and the trip about killed me. (I’m exaggerating.) So when I got home, I was a little dismayed that I had meal-planned Chicken Parmesan for dinner. I mean, the dishes were undone, I was about passed out, and the last thing I wanted was 20 more dirty dishes and an hour of delicate frying.
Turns out that even though it totally did take about 10 pans, it was a very straightforward recipe. And the results are equally as straightforward. Its strengths were evenly-cooked, moist chicken. Its weaknesses were soggy crust that fell off when you cut into it. Not sure I solved the second problem, but I did help with the first by specifying Panko and resting on a rack. If you really are crazy about the crunch, I would also make a mornay from the Mozzarella and Parm, and serve chicken at the last second with the tomato sauce and mornay almost on the side.
NOTES: This original recipe was actually written for camping. It sounded like a terrible camping recipe (what, with dredging in three mixtures?!?), so I altered it for the kitchen.
The fresh mozzarella is imperative, unless you are going to go with the non-traditional mornay.
- Pound 4 chicken breasts between plastic wrap until an even 1/2 inch thick. In a mixing bowl, stir together 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 quart water, until salt is dissolved. Drop your chicken breasts in and set aside.
- Prepare three deep plates for dredging. The first should contain 1 cup all purpose flour. The second should contain 2 eggs beaten with 1/4 cup milk. And the third should contain 1 cup Panko mixed with 1 cup grated Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon dried parsley, 1/4 teaspoon dry basil, and 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano. If you want heat, also include red pepper flake.
- Do some other things around the kitchen, like making your sides or pasta while you wait a little longer for the chicken to brine. Also, heat up a jar of your favorite neutral marinara, like Newman’s Marinara and set aside, covered.
- Heat enough grapeseed oil in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat to liberally cover the bottom of the pan. Bring it up to temp, about 350F. Also, preheat your broiler.
- Remove the chicken from the brine and towel dry. Dip each piece first in the flour, then the egg wash, then the crumbs, letting it rest in the crumbs while you prepare the other pieces.
- Fry each piece–starting with the one that has rested longest–1 or 2 at a time so that there is no crowding in the pan. Go until each side is a deep golden brown and chicken is just cooked through. Set aside on a baking rack set in a baking pan while you finish the other pieces.
- Top each piece with sliced fresh mozzarella and set the pan under the broiler. Broil until cheese has melted and started to go a bit brown in spots. Serve immediately, smothered in the marinara and garnished with basil chiffonade.
Serve with polenta and broccoli rabe. Or if you must, spaghetti and a green salad.
*Recipe changed from the original.