Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to Make Chicken Parmigiana

Most of the cooking I do and teach is based on a quick start-to-finish approach. When prep time is a little longer, though, I try to make sure that the extended effort results in multiple meals.

One example is chicken parmigiana. I made a big dish of it last night and it'll be the centerpiece of three or four meals.

The dish consists of three components, two of which—marinara sauce and breaded, pan-fried chicken—take a little work and a third—mozzarella cheese—which simply needs to be sliced.

Prep time was about 45 minutes, with an additional 15 minutes of bake time. One hour for three or four nutritious, delicious meals (it tastes better than it looks!) is pretty good, no?

Here's how I did it:

I started by making the sauce. I sautéed one chopped medium-large onion and two minced cloves of garlic (add garlic when onions are halfway done) in a sauté pan. When they were soft and translucent, I added organic strained tomatoes (24-oz. jar, Bionaturae brand), some dried oregano, unrefined sea salt and fresh ground pepper. I let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the sauce was cooking, I dipped 10 organic chicken thighs in a mixed egg from the farmers' market and then coated them with organic breadcrumbs. I heated olive oil in two sauté pans and then browned both sides of the breaded (and seasoned with salt and pepper) chicken thighs.

It took me two shifts to do this, as there was too much chicken to fit into just two pans. The chicken wasn't cooked all the way through, but that was fine since I'd be baking the entire dish after it was totally constructed.

When I was almost finished cooking the chicken, I took the sauce off the heat, as I wanted it to cool a little before assembly. All the browned chicken went on a cooling rack. During this cooling time I sliced the mozzarella cheese.

Construction then began. I put some sauce in the bottom of a large oven-proof baking dish, followed by the chicken (in one layer). More sauce went on top of the chicken. A slice of mozzarella per piece of chicken was next and I finished with more tomato sauce on top of the mozzarella.

I baked the dish for 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven, made sure the chicken was cooked and let it cool for five minutes before serving, eating and enjoying.

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