Friday, March 19, 2010

Fast Chicken Parm

Chicken Parm can come in many forms. At least, it can in my kitchen.

I almost never bother to bread the chicken because, as with so many foods, I'm really only in it for the melty cheese. This time I tried to do it very quickly in a skillet, and yet it still wasn't fast enough for my tastes/hunger (seriously, my broiler has never taken so effing long to brown something.) But it probably only took 20-25 minutes start to finish.
So here goes:
I started by browning some chicken breasts in evoo, seasoned with salt. I didn't even drop a cracked clove of garlic in the oil, trusting the chicken would later be fully enveloped in sauce and cheese. I probably should have let them get a bit more color, but again, I was hungry and went for "done" over "perfection".
While the chicken was cooking I sliced some fresh mozzarella and made a little basil confetti/chiffonade.
When the chicken was about 2-3 minutes from done on the second side, I ladled some of my favorite ready-to-go tomato sauce.

Tomato sauce is one of those things I have no real qualms about using ready-made. It just depends on the dish. If I want a fresher tomato sauce, I'll make it "from scratch" using canned tomatoes and do all the seasoning and simmering myself. But for many things, like chicken parm or a meat sauce, I will use a jarred, slow-cooked tomato-basil sauce. This is definitely a home-cook's helper. Just make sure you like the taste of what you're using! (As with my teriyaki, I really love the Fresh Direct slow-cooked tomato sauce. The only thing I don't like about it is the size of the chopped onions. They are far too large a dice for my tastes.)
Back to the chicken:
Turning the broiler on high, I place the fresh mozzarella on each chicken breast, give it a dusting of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and then sprinkle the basil chiffonade on top.

(And if you're like me, maybe a few extra chunks of mozzarella make it into the tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan, for extra melted cheesy bits...)
Place the pan under the broiler, and do your best to be more patient than I was! It took forever (or, five minutes) to melt the mozzarella cheese to the point of browning. And only just starting to brown at that. I think I probably sliced the cheese thicker than strictly necessary, which is what made everything take so much longer. But of course, that also means MORE CHEESE!!!
I finished off/rounded out the dish with some quinoa that was drizzled with evoo & salt, mixed together with a light sprinkling of the parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil. That tied all the flavors together in the meal, and added more fiber and even more protein.

Quinoa is very new to my diet. New as in last night was the first time I'd had it! But I'd read so many articles touting its healthful benefits that I decided to try it. I'm going to try to substitute it in other meals that might call for rice or polenta (tho I really like polenta). I just hope I don't dress it up to the point that it's no longer worth the health benefit. But I actually really enjoyed it... as much as a non health-nut can enjoy a healthy grain. It is in no way gummy, and almost has a little bit of sweetness to it. But it matched well with the savory cheese and fresh basil. I think in the summer months I may try to add things like ricotta salata & herbs for a swap on pasta salad.

So there was last night's dinner. Like I said at the beginning, I've made it a few different ways over the years. Sometimes I bake it in a casserole dish, sometimes a pan. Last night I was going for quick, and the chicken came out very juicy and the sauce was brimming with melted cheese, so we were both pleased. And Mike even ate the quinoa!
Wonders never cease.
Buon Appetito!


Erin said...

Oh, cheese! I love when cheese gets melty and brown and almost burnt. Yumm-o. That looks like a really simple but delish recipe. They are calling for a blizzard here in OK this weekend (um it's 70 right now) but I think I have most of the ingredients to try this tomorrow. Thanks for the great recipe!

Melissa's Espresso Shot said...

Sounds and looks absolutely delicious. Although I have to say (and you may consider it heresy) that there is such a thing as too much cheese for me.

Miss Didi said...

I TOTALLY read :fast chicken porn: SO sad!