Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan

You know, it suffers from the same problem almost all of these dishes do when cooked at home — the crumb coating on the chicken gets a bit soggy in the oven. I’d love a way to remedy that and still get delicious brown bubbly cheese, but I don’t know one, alas!

Chicken Parmesan

Sauce:
1/4 lb. pancetta, cubed
2 small or 1 medium onion(s), chopped
3″ squeeze tomato paste
4-5 cloves garlic
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in juice
1 14.5-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Chicken:
3-4 small chicken breasts
1 c. flour
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 egg
1 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs
1/4 c. finely shredded Parmesan, packed (I like a microplane)
salt and pepper to taste

Topping:
1 c. mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Brown the pancetta in a large pot over medium and remove it with a slotted spoon, leaving the rendered fat. Add the onions to the fat, letting them soften; when they’re getting translucent around the edges, add the tomato paste and garlic so they all get nice and mellow in the oil. When the onions are good and soft and beginning to brown at the edges, add the fire-roasted tomatoes; chop the whole tomatoes nice and fine and add those too. Once the mess is simmering and all stirred together, add the herbs and red pepper flake and taste for seasoning — it will almost certainly want a bit of black pepper and healthy salting. Let it simmer for a while.

While it simmers, pound the chicken to within an inch of its life. Or until it’s about a half inch thick. Whichever you prefer. Put a pan (no nonstick) on the stove with enough oil to coat the bottom and set it over medium heat.

Get a set of three plates (or your preferred dredging system). In the first, mix the flour, the garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste; in the second, beat the egg with the water; in the third, mix the panko and the cheese. Dredge the pounded chicken: dip it in flour on both sides and shake off the excess, then dip in the egg and let it drip a bit, and then press it into the panko/Parmesan mixture until both sides are coated.

Preheat the oven to 375F about now. When the oil in the pan on the stove is shimmering, add the chicken. Make sure to leave some room around each chicken breast so the pan isn’t overcrowded — that sucks up the heat so the chicken is dry and its coating is flabby*. You want a nice brown coating on them; they’ll cook more in the oven, so getting them cooked through now isn’t important. When they’re lovely and golden brown, pop them in a casserole dish and spoon some of your tomato sauce over them.

Cover the tomato-sauced chicken in the cheeses and bake 30 minutes or so, until the cheese is delicious and brown and the chicken is cooked through. Ignore the sogginess and enjoy.

*It’s a fine distinction, but flabby and soggy ARE different.

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~ by iliadawry on 10 June 2012.

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