Last week, we had a freak ice storm that left roads and sidewalks so slick that even walking to the mailbox was a dangerous endeavor. Colorado gets plenty of snow in the winter, but an ice storm is rare. Snowstorms are an inconvenience, but ice storms? Downright scary. For two days, I couldn’t walk the dog without being paralyzed by fear (and feeling like I needed ice skates), and poor Mozzy didn’t understand why I wouldn’t indulge him in his 4 walks a day. He moped around the house and whined at the door and drove me nearly to madness with his restless pacing. I felt bad for the dude, but not bad enough to risk a cracked tailbone or a shattered wrist. He had to settle for quick trips to the backyard and man, he wasn’t feelin’ it.
In order to distract myself from my needy little wreck of a dog, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. Plus, I was pretty much land-locked, so what else was there to do? Over the course of two days, I made a big pot of soup, braised a pork shoulder for green chile, knocked out two kinds of muffins and, as a special treat for my husband, made a pan of his favorite chicken parmesan.
Before you start praising me for my wifely devotion, realize that this chicken parm was actually his reward for braving the ice and cold to walk Mozz-man in the evenings. He’s far more sure-footed and less accident prone than I am, so the walking duties went to him. The least I could do was warm him up with some saucy, gooey, comfort food.
My husband and I both love chicken parmesan–we could happily eat it once a week–but truth be told, I don’t make it that often. That’s because chicken parmesan is kind of a pain in the ass to make, and it messes up the kitchen, to boot. All of that pounding of the chicken and the dunking of cutlets in flour, then egg, then seasoned breadcrumbs. It dirties a lot of dishes and smears up the countertops. The end result is so worth it, but it’s not exactly the easiest or the quickest dish to prepare.
It’s been well documented that I’m a lazy slob, so I guess it’s not surprising that a dinner of chicken parm is an occasional treat. Usually when I make it, I use gobs of fresh mozzarella on top of the finished dish, but all I had in the refrigerator was a paltry 1/2 cup of pre-shredded mozzarella, and there was no way in HELL I was slipping and sliding my way to the grocery store in that weather, so our finished dish looks a little stingy in the cheese department. Oh well, no matter. It was still delicious on a freezy cold night. I told myself that I was doing myself a favor; a girl who goes two days without her regular 3-mile daily walks is probably better off going light on the cheese.
Make this the next time you have some time on your hands or have a parm-loving person you’d like to spoil. It would be the perfect way to show devotion to your favorite valentine, if you were so inclined. You did know Valentine’s Day is coming up, right? Who needs chocolate when you have chicken parmesan? Heavy on the cheese this time, just because.
Hubby’s Favorite Chicken Parm
4 boneless, skinless breast halves, pounded 1/4-inch thick
1 cup flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch cayenne (or red pepper flakes) and pinch garlic powder
1 tablespoon oil + 1 tablespoon butter (you may need more)
slices of mozzarella cheese (you can use regular or fresh or even the shredded–whatever you’ve got on hand)
your favorite marinara sauce
fresh basil leaves, torn
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine flour with a couple of pinches salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large, shallow plate. In another large, shallow plate, beat the eggs. In a third shallow plate, mix the panko with the oregano, cayenne and garlic powder.
Dunk a chicken breast in the seasoned flour to coat and shake to remove excess. Dunk chicken in the egg wash and coat both sides. Dip the chicken in the panko mixture and coat heavily, pressing slightly to adhere. Repeat process with remaining chicken.
Heat the oil and the butter in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 chicken breasts to the pan and cook until coating is lightly brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side 3 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a rack that’s been coated with cooking spray and placed on a cookie sheet.
If necessary, add more oil/butter to skillet and repeat with remaining two chicken breasts.
Place mozzarella slices over chicken. Bake for ten minutes. Serve on a bed of warm marinara sauce, topped with fresh basil, passing extra marinara sauce on the side, if desired.