For some reason, I don't feel like chicken parmigiana should be a comfort food. I equate comfort foods with soups, stews, and roasts with root vegetables. Maybe it's because I'm from New England. Because surely comfort food just means a dish that gives you comfort; that makes you feel warm and happy.
This recipe does that for me.
It originally appeared in Martha Stewart's Everyday Food many, many years ago. I've made it before, but more often, I've had it at my Aunt Anne's house. She's a phenomenal cook and I feel like although we're following the same recipe, hers is always better.
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 chicken cutlets or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts,
halved horizontally (about 1 1/2 lbs)
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups jarred tomato sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 8 1/4-inch thick slices
1. Heat broiler. Combine breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a shallow bowl. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in the beaten egg, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat both sides.
2. Spread tomato sauce onto bottom of a 10-by-15-inch baking dish. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place as many chicken cutlets that will fit into the pan without crowding; cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Using a spatula, transfer browned cutlets to baking dish, placing them on top of sauce. Repeat with remaining oil and cutlets.
3. Top each cutlet with a slice of mozzarella. Broil about 4 inches from heat source until sauce is hot and cheese is melted and lightly browned in spots, 5 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately.
The Verdict: Chicken Parmigiana, how I love thee.
We all agreed that this is good stuff. All the cheese--both in the breadcrumb mixture and on the top--plus the crunchy browning of the breadcrumbs in the pan and the brown bubbles of mozzarella cheese taste decadent.
It's not a quick recipe because of the time it takes to fry the cutlets. But it's not difficult either. As the cutlets cooked, Amir and I played with SuperWhy! action figures, flying back into the kitchen with Wyatt and Princess Presto to save the chicken from burning. So Amir didn't feel neglected as Mommy made dinner.
Instead of a fresh ball of mozzarella (yum), I bought slices from the deli. Not quite as delicious, but easy to just peel a slice of cheese off the top and place on the cooked chicken. I did use my cheese grater again, though. Seriously, nothing better than freshly grated cheese.
We ate our parmigiana accompanied with whole wheat spaghetti. This recipe is equally good with a nice garden salad. I can also imagine that they taste fantastic on bread as a chicken parm sandwich.