Monday, January 30, 2012

Week 4: Pan Frying - Chicken Parm

Week 4 I had a plan.  Chicken Parmesan created with a pan fry and my own style of balsamic pasta.  Then I got called in to work 13 hours on Saturday.  This forced me to adjust plans somewhat, but I had a plan, and by god I was going to make it happen.

This week was pan frying, and to me, that's all about the alternative to a deep fry.  I pounded out some chicken and set up my handy dandy breading station.  The standard breading station is pretty simple, but one of those things that is all about preparation.  Seasoned flour (in my case Emeril's Essence, garlic powder, an italian herb blend and salt mixed in) forms station one.  Station two is the egg mix, I go back and forth between just egg and a mix of egg and milk, for this one I splashed in some milk to help ensure I had enough.  Finally, the actual breading.  I almost always go with a mixture of italian bread crumbs and panko.  Obviously you can tweak the seasonings and bread crumbs to your own preferences, but I find that a mix of panko and "normal" bread crumbs works best.  Finally, for this recipe I added in a thin layer of freshly grated parmigiano regiano.

And now, we fry!  Cast iron is my go to pan for this type of pan fry.  It holds heat wonderfully, has steep and deep sides to reduce any chance of splashing or bubbling out and its reasonably easy to clean as well.  I put down about a 1/2 inch layer of oil (since I had several batches to fry up) into the pan and hit it with the flame.  After the oil hit the appropriate heat I dropped in my first two pieces.  Ok, technically I placed them slowly and carefully into the oil, but you get the idea.  After about 5 minutes I checked for a nice brown crust on the lower side and flipped them when I saw they were all set.  A few minutes later and they went onto a rack to drain, and into the oven to keep warm.  I had about 8 pieces to go through, and in batches of two at a time it took a bit to get them all ready for the final step.

With the chicken ready and in the oven it was time to toss on the final touch, some mozzarella cheese melted over the top of the chicken.  With the chicken complete I finished up the pasta (something I'm sure I will cover in more detail later, but its a simple mixture of pasta, sweated veggies, olive oil and balsamic vinegar) and plated it up.  I was incredibly pleased with the end result.  The chicken had a wonderfully crisp crust and a tender, moist interior.  The cheese made a nice extra layer of saltiness and delicious flavor; particularly when mixed with the sweet and slightly acidic flavor of the pasta.  Definitely a success, and fairly simple to create.

Next week we bring on the booze!

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