SMAM: Chicken Parmesan Burgers

January 11, 2013

Oh, Chicken Parmigiana, how do I love thee? I love your crisp, seasoned crust. I love your tangy, herb-studded marinara sauce. I love your ooey, gooey, decadent blanket of cheese. I love the saucy noodles that usually ride shotgun on the plate with you.

I love you. Except for one leeeeetle problem.

You are a Calorie Bomb from Hell. Yeah, I know you think you’re all sneaky, because you are chicken–boneless, skinless, chicken at that–which everyone knows is healthy, right?

You little charlatan. You…..Lothario! You seduce us with promises of lean, nutritious protein, add the enticement of a vegetable-studded sauce and then? Ka-blammo! You knock us onto our rapidly-expanding ass.

Proof: The Chicken Parmigiana entree at the Olive Garden restaurant contains just how many calories, do you think? Huh? I mean, it’s only chicken, right? Can’t be that bad? Wrong. The magic number is: 1,090 calories.

‘Tis true. You can look it up yourself. And that number doesn’t even include the salad and those Crack Breadsticks they serve. 1,090 calories for one meal is seven kinds of wrong, people!

I think I might have a single glass of wine or a Go-gurt left over in the calorie bank after eating Olive Garden Chicken Parm (no salad, no breadsticks. If I eat those, I’ve hit my calorie allotment for the whole freaking day).

But this sucks! I love you, Chicken Parm! What’s a girl–a girl with a firm eye on the size of her backside–to do?

In my case, a girl finds a really kick-butt recipe in Bon Appetit for Chicken Parmesan Burgers. A recipe which, when followed as directed, clocks in at 554 calories. Not bad! If you are serious about SMAM, or even half-assed about SMAM, you can do like I did and skip the top layer of bread (or skip bread altogether and add a side salad) and make it a knife-and-fork affair.

Any way you dish it up, it will deliver that crave-worthy Chicken Parm taste without the walk of shame in the morning.

Chicken Parmesan Burgers
from Bon Appetit
serves 4

10 1/2-inch-thick slices French bread (4 inches in diameter); 8 slices toasted, 2 slices (crust removed) diced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese*
4 tablespoons minced fresh basil, divided, plus 12 large basil leaves
3/4 cup purchased refrigerated marinara sauce
12 ounces ground chicken (white meat)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon grated onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
4 large radicchio leaves

Blend diced bread and Parmesan in processor to fine crumbs. Transfer to pie dish; mix in 2 tablespoons minced basil.

Mix marinara and 2 tablespoons basil in a small saucepan. Transfer 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce to large bowl. Add chicken, 1/2 tablespoon oil, onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle with pepper; blend. Shape into four 1/2-inch thick patties; coat with crumbs. Heat sauce over low heat.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook patties until bottoms are crusty, 4 minutes. Turn patties over, top with cheese. Cook 3 minutes.

Cover; cook until cooked through and cheese is melted, about 1 minute.

Assemble burgers with bread, radicchio, basil leaves and warm marinara.


* Since there are so few ingredients in this recipe, I’m going to go all Ina Garten urge you to buy the GOOD cheese. Parmigianno-Reggiano from Italy, in the block form. No pre-shredded cheese! The already shredded kind loses it’s flavor in like, a day. Okay, enough harassin’ ya. Just go make this.

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