Dec 20, 2009

Champion Chicken Parmesan

The reason this recipe’s title has the word “champion” in it, is because that’s what you feel like when you’re done making it. A dead-tired, garlic-reeking champion on the brink of starvation, who wants nothing more than to stuff her face with something, anything, and somehow get back those precious hours spent chopping mountains of peppers.

Needless to say, it was another long night. I had an inkling it would be, with a homemade sauce and high maintenance chicken ahead of me. Add to that a doubled recipe (my logic says hours of hard work should reap more than four measly plates of food), and plans to deep clean the entire apartment, do five loads of laundry, wash and put away a trunk of old dishes, practice the violin, and um, relax. All of which, on this particular day, didn’t start until mid-afternoon.

What was I thinking? Probably something along the lines of "If that red-headed robot super wife on Desperate Housewives can do it, so can I." I watch too much TV.

So to make up for lost time, my plan is to keep this post as short as possible and just let the pictures do the talking. Ladies and uh, ladies, I give to you: The very time consuming Champion Chicken Parmesan, condensed.

The situation.
I started on everything at once. Laundry was in. Cleaning had begun. Dishes were soaking. And I even got in a few moments of horrendous violin screeching before I locked myself in the kitchen.

The sauce.
While I could have swapped out the homemade recipe for a more convenient, sanity-saving jar of Prego, I was determined to make it as is. So while the sun-dried tomatoes were soaking, I started chopping. And I didn’t stop until my eyes were burning and my table was overflowing with heaps of chopped peppers, onion, garlic and herbs. Oh time-saving food processor, where art thou?







But by some miracle, it all (just barely) fit into my pan, even when I added the four cans of diced tomatoes. And oh how lovely it smelled simmering. Maybe just good enough to overlook the dishtowel-staining mess I made transferring my leaning tower of sauce to a dish to keep warm.






The chicken.
Eight pieces of chicken = eight late-night neighbor-disturbing pounding sessions (sorry!) followed by a quick break to fold the laundry, finish the cleaning, and set the table (with my mom's lovely blue dishes I had been washing all day). Then I was back in the kitchen to coat the chicken and fry them with love. And olive oil.





I was beginning to see the light. I placed my crispy beauties in baking dishes, covered them with sauce and mozarella, popped them in the oven, and in sheer exhaustion, slumped in my chair and stared blankly into the distance while Luke, tiptoeing on eggshells, poured me a glass of wine and tossed together a quick salad. Whew.



The finish line.
I’m not usually a fan of chunky tomato sauce, and I normally would be reluctant to eat a less-breaded version of such an already perfect dish. (It calls for no breadcrumbs. Did you hear me? None.) But it was delicious.

The red pepper, fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes really gave it a fancy taste. And you just can’t say anything bad about tender juicy chicken smothered in cheese and homemade sauce. Although next time, I may turn to the jar and just add a few sautéed sun-dried tomatoes and peppers on top. It’s not like the made-from-scratch police are going to come and get me.

A few things to remember:

1. Don’t put all the sauce on the chicken, just a little. This will keep the chicken crispy. Keep the rest warm to pour over the linguine.

2. A little extra grated parmesan and fresh basil will make it look pretty at the end.

3. Don’t forget the garlic bread. Seriously. Something has to counteract that no breadcrumbs thing.




The victory.
As for me, I surprisingly managed to finish everything. The laundry. The cleaning. Everything. Well, except for the relaxing part. But you know what? Enjoying my delicious, homemade meal was well worth skipping an hour of being a TV drone, even if I did scarf if all down in around 2.5 seconds. Pretty good stats for a champ if you ask me.


Champion Chicken Parmesan
Yield: 4 servings
(serving size: 1 chicken breast half, 1 cup sauce, 1/4 cup cheese, and 3/4 cup pasta)

Cookbook Note: Try Asiago or provolone cheese in place of the mozzarella.


Tomato sauce:
1  ounce  sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil (about 1/4 cup)
1  cup  boiling water
1  teaspoon  olive oil
2  cups  chopped red bell pepper
1  cup  chopped onion
2  (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4  cup  chopped fresh parsley
2  tablespoons  chopped fresh basil
1  tablespoon  balsamic vinegar
1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
2  garlic cloves, minced
1/4  cup  all-purpose flour
1/4  cup  grated Parmesan cheese
1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
4  (4-ounce) skinned, boned chicken breast halves
1  large egg white, lightly beaten
1  tablespoon  olive oil
Cooking spray
1  cup  (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3  cups  hot cooked linguine (about 6 ounces uncooked pasta)

To prepare tomato sauce, combine sun-dried tomatoes and water in a bowl; cover and let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and finely chop tomatoes.

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sun-dried tomatoes, bell pepper, and onion; sauté 7 minutes. Stir in canned tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in parsley, basil, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and garlic.

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare chicken, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, Parmesan, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a shallow dish. Place each breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; flatten to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Dip each breast half in egg white; dredge in flour mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes on each side or until golden. Arrange in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pour the tomato sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Serve over linguine.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 559 (26% from fat), Fat: 15.9g (sat 5.6g,mono 6.3g,poly 2g), Protein: 46.3g, Carbohydrate: 58.1g, Fiber: 6.4g, Cholesterol: 93mg, Iron: 6.1mg, Sodium: 792mg, Calcium: 359mg.

Source: Cooking Light, October 2000


Rachel Cotterill said...

Well, I'm vegetarian, so I'm not going to go for the chicken - but that sauce with just the pasta (and the cheese, and the garlic bread!) sounds like a yummy meal in its own right.

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