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Sunday, September 7, 2008

mario's chicken parmesan

mario's chicken parmesan 2

I never eat chicken parmesan, never order it, never crave it. I think when I was younger, the only times I would run into it would be at some Olive Garden type of place, where "chicken parm" is just a vehicle for grease and low-quality cheese. But when I saw this picture in Bon Appetit of Mario Batali's family meal, I started to rethink chicken parmesan. I'm so glad I did. It's still super indulgent, as it's cheese + fried chicken no matter how you spin it, but absolutely worth the splurge.

Grocery list: (marinara) olive oil, 2 small chopped onions, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 grated carrot, 3T chopped fresh thyme, 2 28-oz cans whole italian (roma) tomatoes; (chicken), boneless chicken breasts, breadcrumbs, 2 eggs, AP flour, olive oil, fresh mozzarella, grated parmesan, parsley.

making easy marinara

Making your own marinara at home is incredibly easy - it just takes an hour to simmer. If you don't have time to do that (I make a double batch on a weekend afternoon and store it in the freezer), you could substitute a jar of your favorite basic sauce. Mario's recipe calls for sauteing the onions and garlic in olive oil over med-high heat for 10 minutes, then adding the carrot and thyme. After cooking for another 5 minutes, add the tomatoes and bring to a boil.

potato masher in marinara

I've never tried this before, but using a potato masher to mash the tomatoes was a lot easier and faster than crushing them one at a time by hand (normally I grab them out of the can, crush over the pot, repeat). A word of warning - use your pot lid like a shield to prevent any tomatoes from bursting all over your shirt (ahem). Once the pot is bubbling, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce thickens - about an hour.

easy homemade marinara

Stir a couple of times during the hour; remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

breaded chicken cutlets

The chicken is actually very easy. You start by pounding out the chicken breasts in between plastic wrap. In hindsight, I will take the WF butcher up on his offer to pound these for me - what a pain. Did you know WF offers to do this for free, you don't have to pay extra for the pre-cut cutlets? Anyway, when you have your think cutlets, dip them in flour, then dip them in a beaten egg, then coat in egg whites. I don't list amounts here, because you can simply keep adding flour to a plate, and breadcrumbs to another one, as needed, so you don't waste any. I used 2 eggs (beaten) for the full 1.5 pounds of chicken, just for reference.

fried chicken cutlets

Heat 2 T oil in a big nonstick pan over med-high heat, and fry the chicken pieces in batches. Only cook them for about 2 minutes per side - you want them to brown, but not cook all the way through, since they will continue cooking in the oven. Transfer the chicken pieces to a platter. Add more oil to the pan and keep frying your chicken pieces in batches till done.

assembling layers for chicken parmesan

Next, preheat the oven to 350. Coat the bottom of your baking dish (a large pyrex or 9x13 glass pan works well) with 2 cups of the tomato sauce. Layer half the chicken pieces. Top with shredded mozzarella - I used slices because I was feeling lazy - then sprinkle grated parmesan. Layer more sauce and chicken, then finish with the cheeses.

baked mario's chicken parmesan

Bake until cheese melts and bubbles, about 20 minutes. I also broiled mine for 2-3 minutes at the end, so the cheese on top was golden, but the original doesn't mention that. To serve, chop some fresh parsley (and oregano - AKA marjoram - if you have it) to sprinkle on top. I also made a batch of fresh pasta to mix with the remaining marinara to go along with it, the americanized side dish for chicken parm (that's one thing to thank olive garden for). This really wasn't that difficult, and would be even faster if you use the shortcuts on the sauce and chicken cutlets.

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