Sunday, May 17, 2015

Chicken Parmesan my way

My father-in-law gifted us a smoker last year as a wedding gift. My husband LOVES to cook things on the smoker and I probably LOVE to eat the things that he cooks even more. But every now and again he'll make something and say to me "its your job to turn this into a meal" ... and I think to myself... "whaatt?! you made something that is not ready to eat?"

Lately he's been finding inspiration from It's this amazing website (literally) with tons of ideas of meals to cook and smoke. Last week, we had lots of tomatoes that were ripe and we had no plan of what to do with them. So, Brad found this idea of making marinara sauce by smoking the tomatoes - it's called Fired Up Marvelous Marinara Sauce. You can find the delicious recipe he borrowed here.

On Monday he made the marinara sauce and I couldn't come up with not one good idea of what to make with it by dinner time. I know that spaghetti is an easy dinner dish but I felt like this sauce deserved better than just spaghetti. Luckily, marinara sauce freezes pretty well so I had a few days to figure it out. I did a little googling and I decided I was going to make Chicken Parmesan, that sounded delicious.

I borrowed this recipe from Food Network as a starting point. I just needed to figure out how to make the chicken and I disregarded their tomato sauce because I already had my own.

I had one major question when reading through the recipe (I learned the hard way that I should read through a recipe 3-4 times so that I understand all of the steps involved before I begin... this makes actually cooking the recipe much less stressful): But, just how do you "pound thin" chicken breasts? I have never had to make chicken breasts "thin" before.

So, I decided to google the technique and I was able to find very easy instructions in a video here. Luckily, I had a wine bottle and didn't need to buy one of those $14.99 mallets to pound my chicken. Without google, this makes me wonder how in the world did people cook 20 years ago? If a recipe said to do something that the chef kitchen amateur didn't know how to do, how did they make it? Did they pick up the phone and call everyone in their phone book until someone they knew could explain how to do it? I give credit to Google for turning my into a "domesticated wife"... or at least I'm on my way :)

Moving on... 

After coating my chicken in flour, dipping it in the egg wash and covering it with bread crumbs, I was ready to fry my chicken in hot oil! I actually put the breaded chicken in the fridge for 30 minutes while Brad and I went to Publix to pick up a few ingredients for his own recipe. I haven't experimented enough to prove this theory... but its believed that the breadcrumbs stick better to the meat when it's had a little time to "adhere" in the refrigerator. 

Before I started cooking the chicken, I warmed up the marinara sauce on the stove top. As it was warming, I fried my chicken for 2 minutes each side, put some of the marinara on top with a few slices of mozzarella cheese and then I tossed both breasts in the oven for 5-7 minutes. While my chicken was finishing cooking in the oven (with my Texas Toast), I put some pasta to boil. TADA! ...And my chicken parmesan was delicious :)

After pounding those chicken breasts thin, I ended up with two LARGE breasts that I needed to fry one at at time. So, Brad and I ended up sharing one breast by cutting it in half.

There were lots of moving parts to this meal so I was really glad that I read the recipe 3-4 times before I started. I also prepped my entire work area with all of the ingredients that I needed. Usually, I start freaking out when something is frying or cooking and I have to get a second item in the oven or cooking on a different burner at the same time. This is the most chaotic part of cooking for me, heating up multiple items at the same time on different temperatures or burners.. BUT, I finally learned that if I prep my ENTIRE recipe's ingredients, read the recipe entirely 3-4 times and formulate a plan in my head... I'm less likely to burn anything in the process.

I still have occasional freak-outs but usually Brad is just a few steps away, analyzing the concerned look on my face and he asks, "do you need any help?". Luckily, I don't have to tackle this whole cooking thing everyday :)

Chef Stephanita

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