Chicken · Main Courses

Chicken Parmesan

Even though this is a classic dish, much loved by seemingly everyone in the food industry,  I had never tasted Chicken Parm until last night.   Based on its appearance alone, never was I tempted to order it in restaurants.  Seeing plates of breaded chicken swimming in tomato sauce flying past our table did little to pique my interest in trying it.

The other day,  when a Chicken Parm recipe showed up in my news feed, I finally decided to see what all the fuss is about and actually took the time to read it.   As a bonus, the video included in the link made it look pretty easy to put together.  It seemed the perfect dish to serve to friends last night.

Be warned, it will take the full 1 hour and 40 minutes, but the sauce and breading can be done before hand.  So, if you want to spend time with your guests, instead of hiding behind your stove, make the sauce and bread the breasts in advance.  Then, about half an hour they arrive, preheat your oven, warm up that sauce and start frying the breasts.  You will be popping them into the oven just as your doorbell rings.  Let it bake while you enjoy appy’s with your friends.  Once it comes out of  the oven it can rest for up to half an hour before serving.

This recipe serves 6 with enough sauce for everyone.

And the moral to this story is not to judge a dish on its appearance alone.

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The Sauce

2 Tablespoons oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

One 6 oz can tomato sauce

1/4 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 1/2 teaspoons sugar

One 4-inch Parmesan rind (or 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan)

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

The Chicken Parmesan

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 cup flour

3 eggs, beaten

6 medium chicken breasts (boneless & skinless)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 Tablespoons (plus more) canola oil

12 thin slices mozzarella

500 grams spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

 

Make the tomato sauce:

In a medium saucepan heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, cook 5 minutes, then add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened,  about 8 to 10 minutes more.

Add the tomatoes, basil, vinegar, sugar and Parmesan rind.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer,  stirring occasionally and breaking up whole tomatoes with back of spoon, until slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.

Remove from heat, discard the Parmesan rind and, using an immersion blender,  blend the sauce until mostly smooth but still retaining some texture.  (See Cooks Notes 1 )

Season with salt and pepper to taste.   (See Cooks Notes 2 )

 

Make the Chicken Parmesan

In a medium bowl, whisk together the panko bread crumbs with 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan and the dried oregano.

Place the flour on another plate and the beaten eggs in yet another shallow dish (like a pie plate).   Line up the 3 dishes next to each other in this order:

flour

eggs

panko/parmesan mixture.

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. One by one,  dredge the chicken breasts in flour, followed by egg and then panko, making sure to completely coat each breast.  Press a little bit to be sure the coating sticks.  Place chicken breasts flat on a plate until ready to fry.  (See Cooks Notes 3 )

Preheat the oven to 375° and spread half of the tomato sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat.   Cook the chicken breasts, turning once, until golden brown, 5 – 6  minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to the prepared pan, nestling them into the tomato sauce. Spoon the remaining half of the tomato sauce over the middle of each breast.  DO NOT  completely cover all of the breasts with tomato sauce.  Put 2 slices of mozzarella over the sauce on each breast and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top.

Bake until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on size.  If you have an oven-safe thermometer, now is a great time to use it.

Garnish with basil and serve over plain spaghetti tossed with a little olive oil.

Cooks Notes:

  1. If you don’t have an immersion blender, let mixture cool and puree in food processor or blender
  2.  Sauce can be made 3 days in advance, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to use.  Rewarm sauce before continuing.
  3. I breaded the breasts 2 hours in advance, covered loosely with plastic and refrigerated.  Maybe it will work if it sits even longer, but the breadcrumbs might get too soggy.  If anyone tries, let me know.

 

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Chicken · Main Courses

Conquering Dinner for 1

 

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Piri Piri Chicken Thighs with Peanut Satay and Fried Plantain

Kevin has been away these past few days, and his absence has reminded that  while I love to cook, I don’t so much like cooking for 1.    Mostly, because it seems like a whole lot of effort for just me.   A psychologist may want to delve deeper into this thought; perhaps I feel I am unworthy of a healthy home cooked meal, but the reality is that I  enjoy the temporary freedom from meal planning and the need to have something more substantial than a sandwich or bowl of noodles on the table every night.

Which is why, in the past 2 weeks I have eaten Ramen Noodles for dinner at least 3 times!  Yikes, I do love ramen,  but I reluctantly had to admit last night that I had eaten too much of it for my own good.

So, I took a break from sloth and convenience, and actually cooked dinner for one.    It is obvious that my plating needs work, but aside from its lonely appearance on the plate, my one-pan dinner was extremely satisfying.

Peri Peri Chicken Thighs with Peanut-Lime Sauce and Fried Plantain

1 Tablespoon cooking oil, plus more for frying the plantains

4 chicken thighs

1 teaspoon Peri Peri spice blend (or more to taste, see cooks notes)

2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice ( from about 1 large or 3 Mexican limes)

2 Tablespoons water

1 green plantain, cut into 1″ slices

Sour cream to top the fried plantains

sliced radishes

Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat.  Rinse and pat chicken dry with paper towel.  Sprinkle with Peri Peri spice on both sides and put in pan, skin side down.  Cook 15 minutes, then turn chicken over.   Reduce heat to low and cook about 20 minutes more until thermometer inserted into centre of thigh reads 175.  Cooking time will vary, depending on size of the thighs.  Remove from pan to plate and tent with foil.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix peanut butter, lime juice and water together.  Mixture will seize at first, keep stirring until it becomes liquid and creamy again.  Add more water  by teaspoons if mixture it too thick.  It should be runny, but not soupy.  Set aside.

Put a paper towel on a clean plate and set aside.  Add more oil to pan to depth of 1/2 inch and heat over medium heat until shiny, but not smoking.   Using tongs, carefully place plantain slices flat in the oil.  Fry about 2 minutes and carefully turn over and cook 2 minutes more to brown the other side.   Remove from oil to paper towel lined plate.

Reduce heat under oil to low while you do this next step, and   work quickly.   Place the fried plantain pieces between 2 sheets of waxed paper and using a meat mallet or the flat bottom of a glass press gently to flatten each piece to a thickness of about  1/3 inch.  (Be gentle, you want to just squish them, so they will still be soft and chewy in the inside, not flatten them beyond recognition. )

Increase heat under oil, until it shimmers again, and with the tongs, gently place each flattened plantain in the oil and re-fry for about 3 minutes, until they are golden.   Remove from oil, back onto paper towel lined plate.

Put a smear of peanut butter sauce on the place, add chicken and plantains, some radishes or other fresh veggie on the side, a little sour cream for the plantains and you have a dinner for 1 ready in under an hour.

Bonus:  for me, the leftover chicken thighs are going into a chicken salad for tomorrow nights dinner.

COOKS NOTES  – depending on the brand of Peri Peri you have, and your personal taste, the amount you use will vary.  I used 1 teaspoon of Silk Road Inferno Peri Peri blend, for all 4 thighs and found it very tame so I sprinkled more onto the chicken after it was cooked.  Remember, you can always add spice, but you cant always take it out.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken

Za’atar Chicken Breasts

Stupidly simple.  Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend, made up mostly of thyme, oregano, marjoram and sesame seeds with a bit of citrus tossed in.  If you have trouble finding it,  just sub in poultry seasoning or thyme and toasted sesame seeds.  Not entirely the same, but who knows, you might come up with an even better blend.   The point here, is to try something just a tiny bit different on those predictable ‘same old’ chicken breasts.

Za’atar Chicken Breasts

Serves 2

2 boneless, skin on, chicken breasts

salt and pepper

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 1/2 Tablespoons Za’atar

Heat oil in heavy frying pan over medium heat.  Pat chicken breasts dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.   Add to frying pan , skin side down and cook until , 6 – 10 minutes (depending on thickness of breasts), until sides of chicken start to turn white and become opaque.  Turn breasts over, lower heat, partially cover pan and continue cooking another 6 – 10 minutes.

Sprinkle Za’atar seasoning over both sides of  breasts and cook another minute.  (a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast should read 170F).  Remove from pan, set on plate and tent with foil.  Let rest for at least 5 minutes.  This finishes the cook on the meat and prevents all the juice  from running right out the second you cut into it.  Failing to rest any meat will result in  a flavourless, rubbery mass, so have patience and let it rest.  Mix yourself a dinner cocktail , set the table, toss the salad or  pay a bill on line, while you wait.  Just be sure to wait!!

Chicken

Oriental Chicken Sandwich

It seems very strange to be posting a recipe for a sandwich, but hey, people are actually publishing whole cook books based on the subject so I guess it isn’t that far out of the park.    And, besides, summer is here which means most of us will be looking to spend less time in front of the stove and more time enjoying the great outdoors!

But, as much as we want cool  and convenient, we still want flavour.  This sandwich will give you both.

 

Serves 2

Banh mi sandwich topping

Oriental Chicken Sandwich

3 Tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 carrot, shredded

3 radishes, shredded

1 cup finely sliced lettuce

thinly sliced red onion (about 2 rings, separated)

5 fresh basil leaves, shredded

2 cups shredded chicken, either rotisserie or left over from last nights bbq

1  baguette or small french loaf, halved lengthwise

mayonnaise

Whisk rice vinegar, oil sugar, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.  In a larger bowl, combine carrot,  radishes, lettuce, onion and basil.  Pour dressing over, toss and let stand 10 minutes while you shred the chicken and assemble the sandwiches.

Spread mayo over cut sides of bread, top bottom half with the shredded chicken then the tossed veggies.   Add the top half of the bread and enjoy!

Chicken · Main Courses

One Pot Chicken and Rice

I like this dish because it has a short list of ingredients which I usually have on hand and there is only 1 pot to wash up.   It also tastes fantastic.   The short simmer time makes this good  for weeknight dinners, and tasty enough for a casual dinner with friends.  Add some good bread, a nice salad, maybe some wine….

Serves 4

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One Pot Chicken and Rice

4 chicken thighs with legs attached

1 teaspoon salt  (divided)

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (divided)

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 cup long grain white rice

1 3/4 cups chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon tumeric

1 1/2 cups peas

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Rinse and pat chicken dry.   Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper (total). Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy deep skillet (at least 2 inches deep) over medium-high heat.  Brown chicken,  on both sides, about 10 minutes total.  Use tongs to transfer chicken to a plate.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoon fat from skillet.   Cook onion and garlic with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add rice and almonds and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add stock, water and tumeric and bring to a full boil. Nestle chicken in rice, keeping as much rice around (rather than under) chicken as possible.   Pour any juices from plate into the pan.   Cover tightly and simmer, over very low heat until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender and most liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.   Remove from heat and stir in peas.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and then lid and let stand until all of liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle cilantro over top and serve.

 

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Chicken · Main Courses

Chicken Vindaloo

Yes, the list of ingredients is long, but dont let that discourage you.   You probably have most of them hiding in your cupboard anyway, so you might as well give this a try.

Take a few minutes to assemble and measure everything before you start and this will be a snap!

Even for slow cooks like me, it was ready from start to finish in under an hour.

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Chicken Vindaloo

2 onions, one roughly chopped, the other sliced

3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 1/2 Tablespoons white vinegar

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon ground tumeric

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more later if you like it hot, but taste first)

2 Tablespoons canola oil

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces *SEE COOKS NOTES*

1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peels left on, cut into bite size pieces

1 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock

 

Blend the roughly chopped onion and the next 11 ingredients in food processor until a more or less smooth paste forms.  Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium, add paste from processor and cook until darkened in colour and fragrant, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes.  Add the sliced onion, chicken and potatoes; sauté 5 minutes.  Add broth and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Season with more cayenne, if desired, and salt and pepper.

COOKS NOTES- you can sub chicken breast for the thighs, but wait until the potatoes are nearly cooked before adding to the mix.  Those small pieces of chicken breast take only a few minutes to go from nicely cooked to dry so watch carefully.

The original recipe, printed in Bon Appetit, Sept 2002 is from The Ambassador Dining Room in Baltimore MD,  I have tweaked it a bit to suit me, but it is pretty much as written.

 

 

 

Chicken · Main Courses · Salads

Spinach Salad with Pan Seared Chicken Breast

Not too taxing in the cooking department and still tastes great.   There are lots of ways to dress this, but honestly, a simple drizzle of good olive oil is really all you need.  This is on the lighter side, but still satisfying.

This serves 2 as a main course.

Spinach Salad

For the Salad

2 bunches spinach,  washed well, dried,  & larger leaves torn and tough stems removed

small handful of arugula, torn (optional, but highly recommended!)

2 hard boiled eggs, quartered

2 tomatoes, quartered

2 radishes, quartered or sliced

1 green onion, white and green parts thinly sliced

3 – 4 white mushrooms, sliced

Chopped preserved lemon for garnish (optional)

2 Tablespoons Olive oil

The Chicken

1 Tablespoon canola oil

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

juice of half a lemon

salt

pepper

Heat oil in frying pan, over high heat until oil is shiny.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to frying pan and sear on both sides.  About 2 minutes per side.  Partially cover pan with lid and reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until chicken is cooked thru.  I like an internal temp of 155 – 160.  Remove chicken to plate, tent with foil and let rest until internal temp reaches 165,  about 10 minutes. (Yes, the temperature does increase after you take it off the heat)

Meanwhile, toss all the salad ingredients except olive oil to combine and arrange on 2 plates.

Slice chicken crosswise into 1/4 inch slices, and lay on top of prepared salad.

Drizzle 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over each plate and squeeze a bit of lemon juice over top.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and serve.

COOKS NOTE – if using spinach from a bag, ALWAYS give it a wash.  Even though the package says it is washed and ready to use, the stuff in those bags can be loaded with bacteria!!