Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Double Dipped Breaded Chicken Parmesan and Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Sometimes I just can't resist it: There's nothing as delicious as juicy chicken covered in a coating of fried breadcrumbs. As a kid, my sister and I used to request 'crumby' chicken all. the. time. It's just so satisfying. The first time I tried to re-create the dish myself, though, was in college, and right as I started to gather all the ingredients, I realized I lacked breadcrumbs! How can you make breaded chicken without breadcrumbs?! Well, in a pinch, I decided to substitute crushed Ritz crackers, and I never went back - that is until I met panko bread crumbs recently, an excellent alternative. The buttery crackers were so flavorful and locked the moisture right in the chicken. The other tip to get the best coating on the chicken is to double dip it. Otherwise, all of the breading - the best part! - just falls off the chicken once it gets cooking. Then, you're left scraping the tasty bits out of the pan instead of slicing through them on the way to the tender meat. Plus, if the breadcrumbs fall off, the chicken is more at risk of drying while baking.

A note about the panko bread crumbs, I find them to be an excellent alternative. They are finer than crushed Ritz crackers, which allows them to coat the chicken more evenly and gives it a better look, but I think that I still prefer the taste of the buttery-salty crackers coating the chicken. They both work excellently to lock the moisture in and create a super juicy chicken Parmesan or breaded chicken entree!

Double Dipped Chicken Parmesan
My own version of a BBC recipe years ago and Food52

2 chicken breasts - organic preferably - cut to the size you like for serving
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
2 whole sleeves of Ritz crackers finely crushed (as fine as you can get them) or 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3 Tablespoons Italian seasonings
1/3 cup Parmesean cheese (if you like, I don't always use it)
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using Ritz crackers as they are salty)
pepper if you like
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Tablespoon butter

1.) Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2.) Pound down the chicken breasts, if you're into that.
3.) In a shallow bowl, mix together the eggs and milk. Place the flour in a different shallow dish/plate, and in yet another bowl, mix the crackers or breadcrumbs, garlic, Italian seasonings, (cheese), and salt.
4.) Take take a chicken breast and dip both sides in the flour. Then, dip both sides in the egg mixture. Then, dip it into the seasoned crackers/breadcrumbs, pressing the crumbs into the chicken as best you can. This is the first dip. Now, do the double dip: Place the breaded chicken breast into the egg mixture again quickly, then back into the flour, back into the egg, and then lastly, back into the breadcrumbs. Pack on as many breadcrumbs as possible. Set aside on a plate. Repeat step 4 with the rest of the chicken breasts.
5.) In a flat bottomed, fairly large pan or wok, start to heat the olive oil and butter together over medium-high heat. Once the butter starts to get golden and froth a little bit, place in as many chicken breasts as will comfortably fit. Fry on one side for 2-3 minutes, then flip and fry on the other side. The bread crumbs should be nice and golden but not burnt. If burning, turn down the heat.
6.) Once the breading is fried and golden, remove the chicken breasts from the oil and place on a baking sheet and then immediately into the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the center of the chicken breast is white and no longer pink.
7.) Serve with tomato sauce and pasta or with a side of potatoes and greens.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

4 golden potatoes, medium sized (don't buy crappy potatoes and expect to have excelled mashed potatoes)
1/2 cup milk (whole preferably)
1-2 Tablespoons butter
salt to taste

1.) Peel - or don't peel - the potatoes and then cut them into 1/2 to 1 inch chunks. Once cut, place them in a saucepan and cover with water. Put them on the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Once water comes to a boil, turn it to low and place the cover on the pot. Boil the potatoes for 20-30 minutes until a fork can be inserted easily and the potato starts to fall apart some. Strain the potatoes in a colander and then place the potatoes back in the pot.
2.) Pour in 1/4 cup of the milk and use a masher to grossly mash the potatoes. Then, pour in the other 1/4 cup of milk and whip the potatoes with a whisk until they are just smooth. Don't over whip. If the potatoes seem dry, add more milk and whip some more. Once done whipping, put in the butter and salt and gently stir to incorporate.
3.) Serve warm.

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