Not-So-Chicken Parmesan

Reading food blogs is one of my favorite pasttimes. It’s my way of unwinding after a long day. As a result of all this “unwinding,” I have hundreds of recipes bookmarked on my computer that I hope to some day try. A little ambitious, sure, but you never know when you might want to whip up that Eggplant Lasagna Tart with Parmesan-Basil Crust (I’ve been eyeing this since the day it was posted) or some delicious Blueberry Shortcakes with Lemon-Thyme Biscuits. Combine this with the fact that I’m unbelievably organized, all I need to figure out dinner is a protein, and I’ve got an endless supply of recipes and ideas at my fingertips. Most recently, Pioneer Woman’s chicken parmigiana caught my eye.

When I think of chicken parmesan, I don’t think of wine. Normally there’s breaded and fried chicken cutlets, some melted mozzarella, and a smooth red sauce. This recipe is a little different, but I happen to love the Pioneer Woman (and red wine), so why not?

What you’ll need:

Directions

Begin by pouring your flour onto a large plate. Add salt and pepper, mix, and set aside.

Grab one chicken breast and place in a large Ziploc bag. This would be a great time to pull out your trusty meat mallet. I, however, do not own such a thing.

I remember visiting my parents in Florida a few years ago and convincing my Dad that it was necessary he buy a meat mallet. He didn’t really understand why it was so important, but as always, he listened to his little girl and off to the store we went.  I wonder if they’ve used it since…

Anyway, if you own a meat mallet, pound the chicken using the flat side until it’s about ¼” thick.

If you do not own a meat mallet, then just grab a heavy pan, pray that your neighbors don’t get too aggravated (sorry, guys) and start banging away. Sure, this takes a little longer, but the end result is mostly the same.

Remove chicken from bag. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat. While the pan is heating up, dredge the chicken in flour on both sides. Shake off any excess flour and add to the skillet. I only cooked two breasts at a time so as not to crowd the chicken.

Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the chicken turns golden brown. Turn and cook the other side for another 3 minutes.

Remove chicken, set aside, and repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

In the same pan, add your chopped onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat. Let ‘em go for a few minutes, then bust out the dry red wine. Pour in about ½ a cup.

I used Malbec. Is that surprising? I guess if you don’t know me, it might be. I adore Malbec.

Use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan. The addition of the red wine will deglaze the pan and release all those tasty flavors locked in from the chicken and onions. Mmm.

Let this reduce by half (about 3 or 4 minutes) and then add your crushed tomatoes. I used one can of crushed tomatoes and two cans of diced tomatoes, because that’s what I had on hand. I think John and I might have enjoyed this more if the consistency of the sauce was a little smoother. So I would recommend sticking to the original recipe and going all in with the crushed tomatoes. That’s my advice, take it or leave it.

Add sugar, salt, and pepper, reduce heat to a simmer, and let sit for about 25 minutes. Toward the end, add some chopped parsley to the sauce and stir.

At this point, your fiancé should call you and tell you he’s going to be late for dinner. Perfect. Place the chicken in the oven at 250 to keep warm, then why not pour yourself a drink? Some raspberry vodka and prosecco should magically appear on your counter.

Throw in some raspberries and you’ve got yourself a lovely little cocktail for one.

You should know that earlier that afternoon I made a run to our local wine and liquor store to pick a few things up. The raspberry vodka and prosecco, the red wine for dinner, and a bottle of white for good measure. I’m used to keeping wine in the house, ok? I made it home all of 10 minutes later (it’s a short walk) only to receive a phone call from Citibank informing me of “suspicious” activity on my card.

“Do you currently know where your credit card is, ma’am?” Yes.

“Did you just spend $60 at a liquor store?” Yes.

Thanks for being so on top of my “suspicious” spending, Citibank.

An hour later… pull the chicken out of the oven, place it in the sauce (which by now smells amazing), and add some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Cover the pan with a lid, let the cheese, melt, and grab a plate! Place a big heaping pile of spaghetti on your plate, top with a few spoonfuls of sauce and a chicken breast. Adding parsley on top adds a nice touch of green, but I’m regretting I did so. Too much parsley-flavor for my liking, but go ahead if you’re into that sort of thing.

I have to admit, this is quite a beauty.

I loved the addition of wine to this dish, but again, I would have liked the sauce to be smoother. Maybe next time I’ll cut the chicken into smaller pieces, mix the entire thing together, and finish it off in the oven; spaghetti-red-wine-chicken-and-parmesan-casserole? I could make it work.

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