|Plated meal - may I suggest sprinkling Parmesan cheese on top? Enjoy!|
This recipe is primarily inspired by Rachael Ray's "Zesty Chicken Cutlets Parmigiana" in her book Classic Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals (thanks, Dad and Peggy!). I used her recipe as a starting point and improvised based on what I had and my own personal taste preferences. Oh, and also my wallet. Some of her ingredients - fresh Parmigiano Reggianno or Romano cheese, for example - are way expensive. As in, about $10 each. We were already buying fresh mozzarella, equally expensive, and decided spending that much on cheese was a little over-the-top.
I cooked this once before and John said it was so good he would order it in a restaurant (internal high five!). Given his golden review, I decided to make the recipe again for our Valentine's Day dinner and try out homemade garlic bread too - yum!. John and I both agreed that while we love going out to dinner, Valentine's Day dinner at restaurants are less than romantic. Restaurants pack you in so tightly that I feel like I'm eating with my neighbors and not my husband. Anyway...This recipe was perfect for our romantic dinner. We had a perfect first married Valentine's Day evening and a wonderful dinner.
Quick Marinara Sauce:
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
*2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
*15-20 leaves fresh basil, roughly cut or torn
*2 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves stripped from stem and chopped
*A handful of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used a few shakes of dried parsley and thought it was just great)
*tablespoon brown sugar (This is my addition, I like how it softens the bitterness of the tomatoes and makes for a warmer sauce.)
Italian Style Chicken:
*The juices of 3 lemons
*1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Romano cheese (or, in our case, good old grated Parmesan cheese)
*1 cup Italian bread crumbs
*Ground black pepper to taste
*a pinch crushed red pepper flakes
*handful chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (or a few shakes of dried parsley, as I used)
*1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (I used chicken breast tenderloins; about 8 came in the package)
*2 cloves garlic, popped from skin and left whole
*3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (three times around the pan)
*1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
*pasta (may I suggest whole grain spaghetti? Since it's under the chicken and sauce the richer taste of whole grain, versus white pasta, adds a great heartiness to the meal and is much healthier)
*loaf of French bread
*1/2 stick butter, melted
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*a few shakes of Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, and rosemary, I believe will do the trick)
Sauce and Chicken Preparation:
*Start a big pot of salted water to boil for pasta. Cook according to package directions, until al dente, or still slightly firm to the bite. Drain.
*Meanwhile, throw your sauce together by heating garlic and crushed red pepper in olive oil in a pot over medium heat. When the garlic speaks by sizzling in the oil, add tomatoes and fresh herbs. Bring to a bubble, reduce heat, and let the sauce hang out over low heat while you prepare the chicken.
*Squeeze lemon juice into a shallow dish or bowl. Mix cheese (not mozzarella!), bread crumbs, black pepper, red pepper and parsley on a large plate or bowl. Turn each cutlet/tenderloin in lemon juice, then press and coat in breading.
*Heat 2 whole cloves garlic in a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Note: this may take some time for larger pans. I suggest heating the olive oil when you start preparing the chicken. When garlic sizzles, remove cloves and saute chicken for about 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.
*When the chicken is done, arrange on an ovenproof serving dish covered with a layer of sauce. Dot each chicken with a little more sauce and a slice of fresh mozzarella. Place platter under broiler to just melt cheese.
*Take warm platter right to the table. Toss drained spaghetti with remaining sauce. Serve spaghetti and a green salad as side dishes.
|Chicken cooking on the skillet|
|Chicken after broiling in the oven with the mozzarella. Yum!|
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Combine melted butter with Italian seasoning and garlic. Slice bread into 1-inch pieces, being careful not to cut completely through. Try to cut to bottom crust. Brush garlic-butter-seasoning mix in each slice, being sure to coat both sides of bread evenly with mixture (including minced garlic pieces - they tend to sink).
*Wrap bread in foil but don't cover. Foil should come about halfway up sides. Place in the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes, depending on how crisp you want the outside. The foil with help keep the insides soft, but exposing the top of the bread will leave the outside nice and crisp.
*Serve with Italian meal and enjoy!
|The garlic bread smelled so good!|