It's always a little intimidating to makes someone's favorite meal (remember the German Cake Uber-Disaster?). But chicken and pasta - that I can handle. So when Ross requested Chicken Parmesan, I thought it was the perfect excuse to do a Fearless post. Taylor was also headed over for their weekly Wednesday Night FIFA Battle, so I knew I'd have an extra mouth around for judging purposes.
FEARLESS FACTOR: 5. Breaded chicken, pasta, and tomato sauce are nothing new. I didn't want to disappoint Ross' ever-more-discriminating palate, but I was sure I could make it good.
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 large eggs
bread crumbs (preferably Ian's brand, seasoned)
salt and pepper
1 large can marinara sauce
1 large can plum tomatoes with basil
5-6 small sweet Italian peppers
1/2 large yellow onion
2 T. chopped baby garlic (or 2-3 cloves regular garlic)
1/2 c. white wine
chopped fresh basil
fresh thyme leaves
red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 package cappellini or other pasta
fresh part-skim mozzarella cheese, sliced
Using a meat tenderizer, cover the chicken with plastic wrap and hammer out the chicken breasts until they are the same thickness (about 3/4-inch thick). Whisk the eggs and pour them onto a plate. On a separate plate, spread some flour and stir in some salt and pepper. On yet another plate, pour out the bread crumbs. Dredge each chicken breast in flour, then coat it in egg, then fully coat it in the bread crumbs, then set aside.
In a large pot, combine the marinara sauce, plum tomatoes, and wine. Bring up to a low boil. Mince the garlic and slice the peppers and onions. Add them to the sauce. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan, until some of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce begins to thicken. Add the basil and thmye. Add salt and pepper to taste, and also red pepper flakes if you want.
This is the baby garlic I got at the farmer's market, which looks deceptively like small leeks, but packs all the punch of garlic! It was an impulse buy.
My new basil plant! It made its delicious debut in this sauce.
Heat some oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Fry each breast on each side until brown and crispy, adding more oil to the pan as needed (without some oil, the bread crumbs will not not brown). Set aside in a baking dish.
Bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Do not overcook. Drain.
Set the oven's broiler to HIGH. Slice 1/4-inch thick pieces of the mozzarella, and place one on each piece of chicken. Broil until the cheese is melted and begins to get a little brown and bubbly on top.
As you can see below, I burnt the cheese. To a crisp.
So, I did what any cook worth her salt would do: I scraped off the burnt top layer and covered it in sauce! My guests, had they not heard a string of expletives emanating from the kitchen like garlic wafting on a breeze, would have been none the wiser.
Place some pasta on each plate. Lay the chicken on top of the pasta, and top with the marinara sauce, pouring some around the pasta. Top with a little more grated mozzarella if you want, and garnish with some fresh basil. Serve with buttered French bread and salad.
TAYLOR: This is great. I'm gonna have to take a hiatus from my Man-orexia to enjoy it. This is the best meal I've had since...the last time I was here for dinner. The chicken is nice and crispy. When I make it like this it usually comes out greasy. 10 out of 10.
ROSS: The only thing I think could make it better is to put a little sausage in the sauce. But it's one of the best chicken parmesans I've ever had. And my piece of chicken is immense. Thank you, genetically modified chicken farmers. [NOTE: the chicken was not genetically modified.]
JESS: There is nothing I like more than chicken, pasta, cheese, and tomato sauce. And the chicken was really moist. You did a really good job with the chicken.
MY VOTE ON MY DISH: 6 stars. I'm taking away a star for burning the cheese, another 2 stars for grossly overcooking the pasta, and another because my so-called Chicken Parmesan contained exactly NO PARMESAN. I don't know where exactly the parmesan comes in in this dish, but I prefer the melty gooeyness of mozzarella anyway. The flavor was good. And the chicken was definitely really moist and not at all tough. I kept looking at it thinking it must be undercooked, but it was perfect. I owe it to the beating with the tenderizer, the quick cooking time, and the generous olive oil.
I'm definitely glad I skipped the gym and chose to eat cheese-covered chicken instead. Thanks to my judges!
Thanks for reading.