No. 92: Chicken Parmesan Heroes

Sometimes you just need comfort food. This recipe, which I adapted from Food & Wine, fit the bill for a nice end to the weekend.

And if you haven't checked out F&W's great list of chicken breast themed meals, you must! A terrific compilation of fun options for this kitchen staple.

Chicken Parm Heroes

Ingredients

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
1/2 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
Cooking oil, for frying
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, slightly beaten to a thinner consistency
2 eggs, beaten to mix
4 small (about 6 inches) hero or other sandwich rolls, split

To make

In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper.

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, red-pepper flakes, oregano, parsley and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Sauce

(This smelled oh so good.)

Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

If chicken breasts are quite thick, pound gently with a mallet or potato masher to thin them out. This will ensure even cooking in the pan.

Masher

While sauce reduces, in a large frying pan, heat 1/4 to 1/2 inch of cooking oil over moderate heat until very hot. Dip each chicken breast into the eggs and then into the bread crumbs, coating well. Fry in the hot oil, turning once, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 15 minutes in all.

If chicken is browned, but not cooked through, pop it in a 350 degree oven for 5-6 minutes. Check for doneness and no pink in the center. Once cooked through, allow to drain on paper towels for a couple of minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, heat the broiler or your toaster oven. Brush the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over the cut-side of the rolls and toast under the broiler until golden, about 2 minutes.

For assembly, spoon tomato sauce onto the bottom half of the rolls. Top with the chicken, the remaining sauce, and the other half of the rolls.

Assembly

The results

The photos of these final sandwiches are underwhelming, but the flavors were great.

Cut

Our chicken breasts were terrifically thick, even after pounding, so we definitely had to finish them in the oven for about 8 more minutes. I cut mine in half to fit in the sandwich above.

For the future, I'd assemble them and then leave open faced under the broiler for a minute to really get them melty and hot before serving. Add a fresh greens salad and glass of Chianti and you're ready for a sophisticated take on this comfort food.

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