October 5, 2010

Chicken Mozzarella

Savory sauce and juicy chicken...topped with cheese...and broiled...

This is my variation of chicken Parmesan. My husband I really like the tomato flavor in the sauce--the sugar tempers the acidity of the canned tomatoes. Spices like cumin and nutmeg and herbs like basil and parsley dress it all up. But this is not a complicated meal to make.

I found that 1/2 of a chicken breast (or half of a chicken breast half, if you want to be technical*) was a good serving size for me. Thus, I think this meal will serve up to 4 people with smallish appetites or 2 people with hunger pangs.

*Technically, a chicken has a breast (singular), and that breast is chopped into two halves and sold that way. So, technically, when you generally buy chicken breasts, those pieces of chicken are actually chicken breast halves. Apparently, though, misuse of the term has lead to the phrases "a chicken breast" and "a chicken breast half" being interchangeable, with both referring to the same portion/piece of a chicken. This I just learned after a bit of research. Since it's uncommon to find a whole chicken breast in supermarkets, I'm not going to bother with technicalities. I'm going with the general phrasing (no "halves" for me here).

Side ideas: Egg (or "no-egg") noodles, steamed green beans, steamed or grilled Brussels sprouts.


Chicken Mozzarella
Estimated total time: 1 hour
Oven temperature: 400 degrees F
Serves: 2 - 4

Ingredients
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 fresh basil leaves
  • Fresh parsley leaves (to make 1 tablespoon chopped)
  • 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup all purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • A dash of ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves, minced)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2-1/4 cups crushed tomatoes (canned)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • A dash of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Dry egg noodles--2 to 4 servings worth (I used about 6 cups) for an optional side

Instructions

1. Rinse and dry fresh parsley. Chop enough parsley to make 1 tablespoon when chopped. Set aside.
2. Rinse and dry the basil leaves. Make a chiffonade of the leaves by placing them in a stack, rolling up the stack of leaves from the stem end to the tip, then chopping the roll into 1/8-inch slices, generally. Then chop these thin strips crosswise. Set aside.
 
 
3. Flatten the chicken breasts by placing them in a sturdy, sealable (airtight) plastic bag and pounding them with the side of a large can (or a meat mallet, if you have one). You want the chicken to be a more uniform thickness (about 1/2") throughout each piece.
4. Remove the chicken from the bag, rinse each piece, and pat them dry with a paper towel.
5. Trim any excess fat from the chicken.
6. Place 1/4 cup of flour in a wide bowl. Dredge one side of one chicken breast in the flour. Then sprinkle salt and freshly-ground black pepper, along with a dash of ground cumin, on the un-floured side.
7. Turn the piece of chicken over, and dredge the other side in the flour. Remove this piece of chicken, gently shaking off excess flour.
8. Add about 1/8 cup of flour to the wide bowl. Repeat steps #6 and #7 with the other chicken breast piece.
9. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
10. Place 1 tablespoon of butter in a straight-sided saute pan set on medium-high heat. When the butter melts, tilt the pan to swirl the butter, coating the bottom of the pan.
 
11. When the butter is hot and bubbly, add the chicken to the pan. Cook for three minutes on one side.
12. Meanwhile, set a large pot of water on high heat to cook the egg noodles (if desired), according to the package directions.
13. After the chicken has cooked on one side for three minutes, turn both pieces over and cook for about 4 more minutes until done.
14. Remove chicken from the pan and place in a 8" x 8" or similar baking dish.
15. To the saute pan, add 1 tablespoon of minced garlic and turn the heat to medium. Stir the garlic around the pan, scraping up some of the juices from the bottom of the pan.
16. When the garlic is fragrant and sizzling (but not burning), add a splash of white wine to the pan--about 1/4 cup. Stir.
17. Keep cooking and stirring over medium heat, allowing the liquid to reduce by half. This will take about 2 minutes.
18. Add about 2-1/4 cups of crushed tomatoes.
19. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of sugar, several twists of freshly-ground black pepper, and a dash of ground nutmeg. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.
20. When the tomato mixture is bubbly, add the chopped parsley and basil. Stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
21. Carefully pour the tomato mixture over the chicken in the baking dish.
22. Sprinkle 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese over the chicken.
23. When the pasta water has begun to boil, you may add the egg noodles. Follow their package's directions and remove and drain the water when they are cooked sufficiently.
24. Place the dish in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 8 minutes--until the cheese is melted well.
25. When cheese is melted, turn the oven broiler on and broil for about 3 minutes. Watch the dish carefully--avoid burning the cheese.
26. When the cheese is nicely golden brown, remove the dish from the oven.
27. Serve the chicken mozzarella with egg noodles and steamed green beans.

Enjoy!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I tried this recipe and it was so good! Thanks for these great dinner ideas! -Steph

abigail said...

Excellent! Glad to hear it! :)
(And thank you for leaving a comment.)