Friday, June 1, 2012

Pioneer Woman: Chicken Parmesan

Happy June, everyone!  We made our final two May recipes on May 30 and 31, and I'm just stealing a few morning minutes to blog about them.

PW Chicken Parmesan

Verdict:  Wonderful, and a nice surprise!  We all loved it and the flavor was great.
Cook it again: Absolutely.
Cost Factor: Really just chicken and tomatoes.

Served over vermicelli (b/c angel hair is for fish and I don't like spaghetti).
Despite the fact that we typically have all of the required ingredients in the house (well, other than fresh parsley), I had to buy the ingredients for this recipe three separate times.  We kept procrastinating and finding excuses to make other kinds of chicken -- it was too hot for chicken parm, or I was too lazy, or we ran out of time, and not the least was that Mick really can't stand the smell of frying, and this is a recipe that calls for pan-frying the chicken.  (Not in oil, though, but rather in butter, and that helped.)

So, we finally made this on Wednesday, because I didn't want May to be our first month of not making all the cooking club recipes.  I'm so glad we made it.  It was delicious!

Here are the noteworthy things:

1.  It really does make a difference which crushed tomatoes you use.  I've been finishing a supply of Contadina canned crushed tomatoes that we bought at Costco and I've not been happy with a single one our our sauces in months.  This time, we had a can of Tuttorosa tomatoes and a can of Contadina, and even that simple mix made a tremendous difference.  Now, it is silly to say this coming from someone who loves to cook Italian and should have known better to begin with, but really:  don't skimp on your tomatoes.  Do. Not. Buy. Cheap. Tomatoes.  Or if you do, save them for salsa

2.  The recipe calls for pounding out the chicken, salting and peppering it, then breading it with a simple mix of flour, salt, and pepper.  First, the pounding part was fun.  Good stress relief, and this may well be our most stressful week ever.  Lots of stuff going on, most of it unresolved, and I'm not really sure how it is going to GET resolved.  So I quite enjoyed the meat pounder.  Second, I was deathly afraid that the chicken was going to be awful, a la the country fried steak disaster, but I didn't want to doctor the recipe without knowing how it would come out without doctoring, so I was mildly worried about seasoning.  Turns out, just a pinch extra on the kosher salt was perfect.   It was wonderful!  We salted moderately -- but only on one side of the chicken, and then did pepper on the other -- and it was just right. 

3.  You don't fry in oil, but rather in butter.  The recipe calls for two tablespoons of butter to get you through the six cutlets.  Not sure how that works, because I probably used 3000 Tbsp of butter by the time we were done.  It seemed like each chicken breast just absorbed all the butter we had in the pan and we'd be throwing subsequent pieces of chicken on a dry, hot pan, so I kept adding butter.  It didn't hurt it, but just be aware if you're like me, you'll use some butter.

4.  The sauce calls for wine; but truth be told, I'm not sure you need it.  Ours was fine with it, but would have been fine without, too.

This makes a nice and -- believe it or not, light -- chicken parm.  Don't be afraid to make this in the summer.  And even better, you end up melting the cheese in the pan on the stovetop, so unlike other recipes I've made, you don't need to turn your oven on.  Considering it's been in the 90s here and our AC is cranking as hard as it can already, I was thankful that this was essentially a one-pan meal (plus a pot for the pasta) and there was no oven necessary.  (Well, unless you want garlic bread, which I did want but forgot to make, so there you go.)


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