Week 14

Crispy Chicken Parmesan

[taken from page 299 of “The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook” (A variation of “Crispy Chicken Breasts”)]

Notes: OK, and we’re back! This time with one of my favorite Italian dishes. Since Chicken Parmesan isn’t a family recipe, this one had to be taken out of the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook (although the family cookbook does have a pretty similar recipe for pork tenderloin). Just me this week, so I needed something that didn’t serve too many people.

Lessons:
1. I don’t think that I could have done this recipe without tongs, so I am glad that I bought some after my last chicken endeavor (for more on this lesson, see #5).
2. Most of these recipes call for 4 breasts, which I find irritating because I can only ever find them in the store in packs of 3. I think that the cookbook says 4 because it assumes you’re going to bifurcate the one gargantuan breast out of the three.
3. After my misjudgment of “amount needed” in the cheesecake recipe, I got too much tomato sauce and now have a half can in my fridge going to waste. I also don’t like these recipes that call for breading because there is inevitably some eggs, flour and bread that goes to waste afterwords.
4. The reason that the cookbook’s trick for breading chicken calls for you to pound each breast to a thickness of 0.5 inches is partly due to the depth of the oil that they’re fried in, and to make sure they’re cooked thoroughly. Still, with the larger breasts, accomplishing this task was quite the challenge as chicken really needs a beating in order to get that thin.
5. Another key to this recipe is hot oil. Needless to say, any contact with the oil was an exciting adventure, be it putting the breasts in or flipping the breasts over.

Final Analysis: This recipe ended up producing two very different results. Two of the breasts were a little thicker than the others and cooked for a little longer than they should have, thus producing some black coatings, compared to the correct “golden brown”. The other two breasts turned out perfect. I was able to pound them down to the needed thickness and I put them in the oil as the second batch, so by then I had figured out what I needed to. Also, this dish really needs a side to it. In fact, if the “Quick Tomato Sauce” from week 1 was used, then I wouldn’t have to worry about wasting any canned sauce and I would have plenty to accommodate any pasta I would have made.

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