I absolutely love the difference between foods in the north and south. When I visit my father, I’m able to dive into a breakfast of biscuits and sausage gravy, something that I have found the northerners just can’t make as well. In Michigan, I can go down the road for killer Chinese food, a place that I will really miss when I’m in college. Being down in Texas for college orientation has turned me into a huge seafood lover, something I completely avoided while up north. Cajun food down south is brilliant, and addicting- I find myself craving court-bouillon from time to time. And of course, Mexican food is made right.
Of course, I’ll miss the Coney Islands abundantly scattered across Michigan, and the really good little Italian restaurants. One thing I was told while down in Texas was that Italian food is nothing like it is up in Michigan. There just aren’t very many little places that cook authentic Italian, which means I’ll probably end up getting it somewhere that also serves tacos. (I mean, come on, even the Dairy Queens have the option of ordering a taco.)
After orientation at college, I had a few days left to spare with my Dad, Aunt, and Uncle. I wanted to cook dinner for them at least once, especially for my Dad, who lives off of frozen dinners. We ended up having to buy close to everything ingredient wise, since neither my father nor my Aunt really cook. My Aunt even resorted to stealing a sugar packet off of a restaurant table.
This recipe is one of my favorites for chicken parmesan. I don’t know if it’s the mounds of mozzarella cheese or the kalamata olives that add a spicy kick to the sauce and chicken that I enjoy more. It helps to prepare everything ahead of time before throwing it into a hot saute pan, because time does get away from you easily with this recipe. I forgot about that, and ended up sputtering around the kitchen trying to put things together. Although it took me a bit longer than usual, they were kind enough to let me take a few shots in the dining room. I walked back into the kitchen/living room space to put my camera away, and when we returned with plated food, I found my plate- the one I had previously photographed- chickenless. Turns out my Aunt’s dog decided he wanted a try and was tearing apart the piece of chicken half his size. At least I know the dog really enjoyed it!
From Tyler Florence of Tyler’s Ultimate on Food Network
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
- 1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves
- 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
- Pinch sugar
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 cup dried plain bread crumbs
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 1 pound spaghetti pasta, cooked al dente
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Coat a saute pan with olive oil and place over medium heat. When the oil gets hazy, add the onions, garlic, and bay leaves; cook and stir for 5 minutes until fragrant and soft. Add the olives and some hand-torn basil, reserve the rest of the basil for finishing the chicken. Carefully add the tomatoes (nothing splashes like tomatoes), cook and stir until the liquid is cooked down and the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes; season with sugar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Lower the heat, cover, and keep warm.
Get the ingredients together for the chicken so you have a little assembly line. Put the flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, combine the eggs and water, beat until frothy. Put the bread crumbs on a plate, add the 1 cup parmesan, chopped parsley, and garlic powder Season with salt and pepper and stir with a fork until thoroughly combined.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high flame in a large oven-proof skillet. Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off, then dredge in the bread crumbs. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once.
Ladle the tomato-olive sauce over the chicken and arrange the mozzarella on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan, and remaining basil. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve hot with spaghetti.