Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chicken Parmesan

This was the best Chicken Parmesan I have ever had.  Stacy gave me The New Best Recipe from the Editors of Cook's Illustrated. It is probably one of those time-consuming recipes that I wouldn't make unless I had time and interest to go above and beyond.  But I would definitely make it again; it was that good.

Printable Version: Chicken Parmesan
Ingredients for the Tomato Sauce:
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon sugar
salt and ground black pepper
Ingredients for the Chicken and Pasta:
1 recipe of Breaded Chicken Cutlets ( recipe follows)
2 teaspoons salt
8 ounces spaghetti or linguine
3 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
12 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Getting Started:
1.  Dissolve 2 teaspoons of table salt in one quart of water and place in a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag.  Add the cutlets and seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Refrigerate until the cutlets are fully seasoned, 30 minutes. Line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels.
2.  Remove the cutlets and lay them in a single layer on the baking sheet. Cover with another triple layer of paper towels and press firmly to absorb the moisture. Allow the cutlets to dry for 10 minutes. Carefully peel the paper towels off the cutlets; sprinkle the cutlets with pepper to taste and set them aside.
3. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle posistion, set a large heatproof plate on the rack, and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the bread crumbs in a shallow dish or pie plate. Spread the flour in a second shallow dish. Beat the eggs with the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a third shallow dish. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and set aside.
Breading and Cooking Cutlets:
1. Pound the boneless, skinless chicken breast to 1/2" thickness
2. Dredge the cutlet throughly in flour, shaking off the excess
3. Dip both sides of the cutlets in egg mixture, allowing the excess to drip back into the dish. Using tongs helps keep the breading from coating your fingers.
4. Dip both sides of the cutlets in the bread crumbs, pressing the crumbs on with your fingers to form an even coat.
5. Place the breaded cutlets in a single layer on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and allow the coating to dry for about 5 minutes. I think all the drying helps get the cutlets crispy.
6. Meanwhile, heat 6 tablespoons of oil in a heavy-bottomed 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Lay 2 cutlets gently in the skillet and cook until deep golden brown and crisp on the first side, gently pressing down on the cutlets with a wide metal spatula to help ensure even cooking. Reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook until the meat feels firm when pressed gently and the second side is deep golden borwn and crisp, 2 1/2-3 minutes. Line the warmed plate with a double layer of paper towels and set the cutlets on top; return the plate to the oven.
7. Discard the oil in the skillet and wipe the skillet clean using tongs and a large wad of paper towels. Repeat step 6, using the remaining 6 tablespoons oil and the now-clean skillet to cook the remaining cutlets. After draining on paper towels, serve all the cutlets with the lemon wedges.
For the Sauce: 1. Heat the garlic and oil together in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until the garlic starts to sizzle. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, oregano, sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2 grinds of pepper. Bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the sauce thickens a bit and the flavors meld, 10-12 minutes. Taste the sauce, adjusting the salt if necessary. Cover and keep warm.
2. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Adjust an oven rack to the top position and heat the broiler.
3. Meanwhile, bread the chicken cutlets, place them in a single layer on a wire rack set over baking sheet, and allow the coating to dry about 5 mintues.
4. Add the salt and spaghetti to the boiling water and stir to separate the noodles. At the same time, cook the chicken cutlets according to step 6.  When the cutlets are done, transfer them to a clean wire rack set over a clean baking sheet. Top each cutlet with 3 tablespoons mozzarella and 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Place the baking sheet under the broiler and broil until the cheeses melt and are spotty brown, about 3 minutes.
5. Drain the spaghetti. Transfer a chicken cutlet and a portion of spaghetti to each of 4 plates. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons sauce over part of each cutlet, then sauce the spaghetti as desired. Serve immediately, passing more Parmesan separately at the table.

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