Sunday, November 12, 2006
Parmesan-Crusted Chicken - Or, Rachael Ray is a Liar
This recipe is, indeed, from Rachael Ray. And I think that she is probably a very honest person in general, but if you make this recipe as directed you will end up burning down your kitchen. As did I the first time I attempted the parm-crustedness. I made this tonight for the 4th time and it finally turned out exactly how Rachael said it is supposed to, all goldeny-gooey-crusty-crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. So don't be discouraged if your first try or so isn't that stellar...practice makes perfect :) I will share some of my parmesan-crusted chicken warrior tips with you, though, so that maybe you can avoid some of my tragic mistakes!!
PARMESAN-CRUSTED CHICKEN with TOMATO-BASIL GARNISH*
From Rachael Ray, modified by Kira
4 (6-8 oz) boneless skinnless chicken breasts
2 C shredded (not grated) parmesan
4-5+ T olive oil**
4 plum Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
15-20 fresh basil leaves, rolled and thinly sliced (chiffonade)
Coarse ground pepper to taste
A teeny pinch of salt for the garnish (optional)
Roll out a 1-2 foot piece of waxed paper or aluminum foil near the stove top. Add 4+ T (about 4 turns of the pan) of olive oil to a nonstick skillet*** and begin to heat the skillet - it must be very hot when the chicken is added.
Pile the shredded parmesan **** on the work surface you created with the waxed paper or aluminum foil. Season the chicken breasts with black pepper but no salt - the parmesan cheese adds enough salt to the taste of the dish.
Press the chicken breasts firmly into the cheese, coating both sides of the breasts with as much cheese as possible. Set breasts into the skillet and cook 7 minutes on each side, until cheese forms an even, golden casing around the tender chicken breasts.
While the chicken cooks, combine chopped tomatoes with basil in a small bowl. Add a splash of olive oil to the mixture and combine with your fingers for maximum flavor release from the tomatoes. Season to taste with pepper and salt.
Drain any excess oil from chicken as you remove it from the skilled. Top chicken with big spoonfuls of raw sauce.
* Ryan doesn't like the garnish so that's why it is mysteriously missing from the picture that I took of tonight's dinner. I like the garnish quite a bit, but I was too lazy to whip it up for just me. In case you are curious, the other stuff is garlic risotto (from a box, but I did use 1/2 chicken stock and 1/2 water) and sauteed zucchini.
** Rachael says that you only need ONE tablespoon of olive oil for the chicken. THIS IS A LIE. You will need about 4 turns of the pan.
*** Interestingly, she also tells you to heat the nonstick pan "very hot" prior to adding the oil. There are a few problems with this. First, I have heard from several reliable sources that if nonstick pans are going to release toxins, they do it when they are heated with nothing in them. Secondly, if you put cold oil into a hot pan, it tends to SMOKE. A lot. Trust me on the smoke thing.
**** You will probably have some leftover parmesan. While I don't recommend eating it straight up, since it's covered in raw chicken, you can drop little globs of it into the oil while the chicken cooks. They will cook into delightful little parmesan crispies that you can then snack on while you wait :) Or put on a salad or something...if you don't eat them all first!