Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chicken Parm--Old Jersey

Chick Parmigiano like Grandma Nettie used to make for Two for two nights:

First, you have to buy things:

Package of Organic, expensive boneless chicken breasts. About three breasts.

Garlic cloves

Good Olive Oil

One can of Hunts Tomato Sauce--the big one, about the size of a baby's head

One can of Crushed Tomatoes--the big one, same size

Fresh Basil, as little as you can buy

A big ball of the best mozzarella you can afford

Good grated parmesan/romano cheese combo

A Box or two of linguini (or spaghetti)

Eggs, breadcrumbs (plain), flour

Now get your ass moving:

First, make the sauce. You put a couple of tablespoons of oil in a medium sauce pan. Heat it up. Smash two cloves of garlic to get the peel off. Slice garlic into smallish pieces. When oil is hot, throw the garlic in, stir for a while. Keep stirring until the garlic is medium brown. Take the pot off the flame and THROW THE GARLIC OUT.

Put pot back on flame and put in the can of tomato sauce and the can of crushed tomatoes. Rinse the cans each with an 1/8th of a cup of water to rinse out the rest of what sticks to the can. Throw it into the sauce pan. Throw in about ten or fifteen leaves of fresh basil. Cut them up a bit, first. Stir. Add very little ground pepper. And some salt. Just…salt to taste. Be careful. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer. If it starts getting too thick, add some water. Stir every now and then. Don’t add anything else. Nothing. No sugar. No onion. Nothing ridiculous. This recipe begs for simplicity. Like a simple quickie in the back of a Chevy Monte Carlo.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Get three wide bowls out. Scramble up two eggs in one bowl. Put about a half cup of flour in another. Put about ¾ a cup of bread crumbs in the third. Add some salt and pepper to the bread crumbs.

Take the chicken breasts out. Put them, one at a time, into a zip lock and pound them with a rolling pin. Not too hard. You don’t want to liquefy the raw chicken. Just get them thinning out some and a little tender. You’ll be glad you did.  Put them on  a plate. Don’t get chicken on your rolling pin. Try not to get raw chicken all over the place. One hand chicken, other hand clean. Something like that.

After the three are pounded out and on a plate, cut them cross-wise so you end up with six squarish pieces.

Get a big frying pan out. A real big one. Heat the pan first. Put a solid amount of oil in the pan. Not too much…like, you don’t need depth. You’re not deep frying. But do cover the whole bottom and then a tidge more. Get that oil good and hot. But don’t get it smoking.

The chicken: dip in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. LIGHT ON ALL THREE. You’re not making a mummy here.


Wash up all the raw chicken mess you made. Throw out that zip lock bag. Wash off that rolling pin within an inch of its life---because you know no matter how hard you tried, you ended up touching the rolling pin with your raw chicken hand. Get the rotten raw chicken plate into the dishwasher and don’t go near it again. I know, I know---it’s expensive organic chicken. But you never know. I once got MRSA just watching a documentary about India.

Get all six pieces fried to a golden brown, flipping over one time. Cut into the middle after about 8 minutes. You can leave just the tiniest sliver of raw chicken in the center. I mean, TINY.

Get your spaghetti water going. Salt it a little.

Cut up about ¾ of your mozzarella ball into little-ish squares the size of a nickel, the thickness of a pink eraser. The other ¼, snack on while you drink and listen to Louis Prima on your iTunes.

Take a long glass or metal cake pan…you know, like a 1970s sheet cake size, and pour a little of the tomato sauce you’ve made in the bottom. Like, just cover the bottom. Don’t be nuts about it. You don’t want it deep. This Jersey Chicken Parm needs to be finessed with light amounts.

Until the cheese.

Sprinkle some parm/romano over the chicken. Medium. Cover the chicken with the cut up mozzarella. Throw it in the oven. It will take about fifteen minutes for the cheese to melt right. When the cheese is melted…you’re pretty much ready.

By now you should be making the linguini. Use Brown Rice Pasta if you are wheat sensitive or have the Celiac.  Drain.

Turn off the sauce.

Take a look at your chicken. It’s probably ready because your cheese is all melty---but because there’s a little sauce on the bottom, everything is moist and nothing is getting ruined. So now, turn the oven up to broil…and let it brown the cheese up, just a bit. Watch it. Not too brown. Don’t get too crusty about it.

Take it out.

Put the linguini and a couple pieces of chicken on a plate. Put on the sauce. Serve. Should be enough there for two hungry adults for two nights.

As a side dish, consider broccoli rabe…Buy the organic good stuff. Cut off the fattest ends. Boil it for just a few minutes. Sautee in oil. Choose garlic or lemon, but not both, to finish it off. Garlic, you’d add into the oil.  Lemon, you’d wait until the veggie gets to room temp and squeeze it on.  If garlicked, serve hot. If lemoned, serve room temperature.

That’s what I got.

The second night: Heat the left over chicken parm in the oven in a smaller glass cake pan with a little sauce on the bottom. Make some more pasta or heat up leftover pasta from the night before. Heat up the extra sauce in a pan.

This is NJ kind of fare. Fattening. Carb and cheese loaded. So fucking delicious, you’ll wonder why you ever fucking left Newark.

Keep eating. You deserve it. You survived Sandy. You survived the recession. You survived two wars in the Middle East. Fuck, you even survived your shitty childhood with the ugly paneling and the cheap polyester print shirts from Caldors. You deserve it.

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