Chicken Parm - Revisited
Don't get me wrong; I love the chicken parm recipe from Cook's Illustrated. I've made it hundreds of times and gotten restaurant reviews. HOWEVER, when I lucked into Garth Brooks concert tickets five years ago, I called Taylor and Courtney to see which one wanted to go. (And I love that Courtney told me to take her husband and have a blast.) Taylor and I met at The Palm since it's across the street from the Arena. He used his frequent flyer status there to land us a table in the bar section. I had chosen the perfect person to pre game Garth. (And there is a reason Garth has been named Performer of the Year as often as he is. Hands down best performer and best concert I have ever experienced.) But I digress: We looked over the menu, and as I contemplated a rib eye or lamb chops, Taylor looked up at me and asked, "Have you had their Chicken Parm?"
WHAT?! My face narrowed. He laughed and held his hand to his chest, "I know. I know. You think I'm crazy."
But while splitting a salad and the butterflied full breast, chicken parmesan, I looked up at him after every single bite. No words, just a look or shake of my head. His triumphant reply each time, "I know, right?"
SO, when Taylor left Nashville for Bainbridge Island, I knew what he missed the most when visiting them. I was on what he called: the recipe chase. And then, I found it: a 2012 Facebook video post with an original family member from The Palm (and a full explanation of WHY a steakhouse makes the best chicken parm that I've ever had.) I peered at the video a bit mind blown at some secrets that would make the difference - namely breading then scoring the chicken and . . . wait for it: MUENSTER CHEESE. On my last visit, I couldn't find the video. One day, it will disappear completely I'm sure, so I'd better get it down now.
Oddly, the video just popped right up, but there's no sound: CLICK HERE TO WATCH.
But for my recipe annal purposes, here's what I do now for The Palm's Chicken Parmesan.
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 or 7 garlic cloves
Handful of FRESH basil (still on stem makes it easier)
28 oz. can of San Marzano whole tomatoes (with the liquid)
1 cup white wine (optional - I don't do it since I was making it for kids too)
2 T sugar (I don't do this either. . . I like the tomato flavor more)
6 whole Chicken Breasts (This will make 12 portions!)
2 cups AP flour for dredging
4 beaten eggs for coating
2 cups Italian breadcrumbs (NOT Panko)
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
3 T vegetable oil
12 slices (at least) of MUENSTER cheese
~ Bring the olive oil to sizzle and then drop in garlic and basil to infuse oil.
~ After about two minutes, drop in tomatoes and their juice.
~ Also add white wine and sugar now if using.
~ Let simmer while you prep the chicken breasts
~ Pound all chicken breasts till they are same thickness all over. (This helps with even cooking AND tenderizes. Don't skip this step.)
~ Dredge in AP flour, shake off excess flour, coat in beaten eggs, then encrust in combined breadcrumb and Parmesan cheese mixture.
~ Take all breasts and score them by tapping a sharp knife along the entire surface.
~ Let chicken rest for ten minutes. (Check on sauce which should be an orangey color.)
~ Heat 2 T of vegetable oil in pan till shiny.
~ On medium heat- fry chicken breasts till browned on both sides. (After two rounds of doing this add the other T of oil so the extra crumbs don't start to burn in the pan.
~ As you remove the breasts put on sheet pan or broiler pan. Once they are all finished, spoon sauce over chicken and cover with slices of MUENSTER cheese.
~ Put pan in broiler on high but watch like a hawk! When cheese just starts to bubble and brown - serve!
~ Side Note: When making with kids, I cut up smaller pieces and don't coat with sauce or cheese: chicken nuggets!
So there it is. Lots of steps, but pretty simple. On New Year's Eve, I realized the rack was too far from the broiler and as I moved the whole rack with the pans still on them, three pieces jumped ship . . . The chicken pieces were saved, Courtney stayed calm, and the bottom of the oven survived. . . All's fair in love and chicken parm.