Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Cheater Chicken Parm, and Daughter's last meals

I love chicken parmesan, I'd probably still love veal parmesan as well if you didn't have to take out a loan to buy decent veal. The combination of salty, crunchy, juicy makes breaded chicked with parmesan and cornmeal crusting, or romano in my house, one of the best ways to enjoy normally bland boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

The problem is the high maintenance factor, first you have to coat the chicken in seasoned flour, then an egg wash and finally a mixture of breadcrumbs, grated cheese and cornmeal. This has to be done a couple of hours ahead of time or the breading simply won't adhere to the chicken, and since you will be fast frying the chicken the breasts usually have to be sliced in half, making the whole procedure more than I want to do on a regular basis. However I was recently advised that faster chicken parm can be made by coating half the breast with a mixture of mayonnaise and grated cheese and then roasting in a hot oven, so I gave it a try. I mixed two parts mayo with one part grated romano and spread over the top of boneless, skinless breast halves, top with bread crumbs and then baked for 20 minutes at 425 degrees. The result was encouraging enough that I decided to fiddle with the process and after two more attempts I now have a Cheater Chicken Parm that is very good.

Last night I made the dish, using six half chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, I mixed 200mls of Hellman's mayonnaise with 100ml of grated romano cheese and the zest of 1/3 of a lemon, homemade mayo doesn't have the stiffness that jarred mayo does and Hellman's is by far the best mayonnaise available commercially, plus the initial idea came from their tv commercial. I spread the mixture on the chicken and topped each piece with some chiffonade basil and then panko bread crumbs. I baked the chicken for 20 minutes in a 425 degree oven and then finished it under the broiler for about a minute just to add crispness. The result was crispy, salty, and herbal on top while the chicken was still juicy and plump just as Chicken Parmesan should be, for those worried about the fat from the mayo (and if you are why are you reading my recipes) I think the lack of frying in an olive oil/butter combo probably balances things out. I paired the chicken parm with a mushroom risotto, fresh broccoli and nice food friendly Italian red, Dino Illuminati Montepulciano D'Abruzzo Riparossa, one of my go to Italian classics and it was a great meal.

It comprised the third of daughter's four last meals before leaving us for twelve days on a student exchange to Quebec. Last Saturday before heading to work I asked daughter to list the four meals she would like on Sunday-Wednesday before going away. The results came pretty quickly, Cheese Burgers, homemade pizza, and chicken parm, ribs would have been #1 but her braces mean she can't eat the succulent pork bits for awhile. Surprisingly the fourth selection caused a great deal of deliberation, I though Mac and Cheese would be a no brainer but daughter struggled between the American classic and the bistro staple of Quiche Lorraine before finally going Mac & Cheese.

I'm not sure wife will survive twelve days without daughter, I will struggle but I fear wife may not make it. Only time will tell, thank God for Skype.

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