Wednesday, January 29, 2014

No Fry Chicken Parmigiana, You Do Not Miss the Oil.

I have seen several postings of recipes on Facebook that feature "no fry chicken" which is essentially a (hopefully) crispy, tender and juicy "fried" chicken made in the oven.  Some recipes use a fat, such as mayonnaise or sour cream, or a condiment, such as mustard, to slather onto the chicken before pressing grated cheese or flavored bread crumbs on it as well.  Then there are the recipes that simply coat wet chicken with bread crumbs and grated cheese.  The former usually requires a good amount of fat and coating on top, but bland chicken on the bottom.  The latter usually turns out that the top is dry and the bottom coating has stuck to the aluminum pan.  Hope do you win?

If you're going to "fry" in the oven, you will need some type of oil, whether you brush on olive oil or give it a good spraying with nonstick cooking oil.  To keep it from drying out, cook the chicken halfway, remove, spray or brush the pan again, and then place the chicken back on (bottom now on top) and bake the rest of the time.  This will help the coating from sticking to the pan, and the top from becoming dry as the desert.  Now I'm going to take it one step further and show how to make a great American-Italian dish; Chicken Parmigiana.

First important ingredient is the chicken; use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but we're going to make cutlets out of them.  Semi-freeze the chicken to firm them up and the knife will slide easily through them.  Place a chicken breast on the cutting board, your palm down on top of it and slide the knife lengthwise through the center.  You now have two chicken cutlets; don't be worried that you made a mistake and one is thinner than the other.  You can save ones that you feel are too thin to make a Stuffed Chicken dish, or cut up for Fajitas; no mistakes and no waste with this method.

To bread the chicken, place them in a large plastic bag as they are pretty moist as it; or you can dip them in an egg wash first, your choice.  Add to the bag two tablespoons of Italian flavored bread crumbs plus one tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese for each cutlet.  Sorry, but you'll have to do a little math depending on how many cutlets you'll be no-frying.  Now shake, shake, press, press; move that chicken around to make sure you coat it well.

Preheat your oven to 350F and brush an aluminum baking pan with olive oil, or give a liberal spray with nonstick cooking oil.  Remove each cutlet from the bag, shaking any excess off, and place onto the  pan.  Now bake the chicken for only 15 minutes; yes, it will not fully cook, so don't eat any yet.

While the chicken is baking, get out a glass baking dish (I used a 4 quart), give a light spray or brush of oil and then spread one cup of Homemade Pasta Sauce or Vegetarian Pasta Sauce  (defrosted to room temperature, or freshly made) over the bottom.  After the 15 minutes, carefully remove the chicken cutlets from the aluminum pan and place into the baking dish.

Top each chicken cutlet with a slice of Provolone cheese; two if you really enjoy Provolone; it's your meal, so add more cheese if that is how you like it.

Now cover it all with more of your sauce; this will be your baking medium; the chicken will also absorb some of the liquid and this will help keep it moist and tender.

More cheese!  Top with shredded Mozzarella cheese; I usually spread one cup, take a step back, look at it, and add more cheese to those places that I think got cheated.

Now place the baking dish into the oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes; the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling up the sides.  The chicken is fully cooked, moist, tender, juicy, simply Perfecto!!!  The great part is that there will not be any oily residue oozing from the chicken the next day which usually happens with fried chicken. The oil you did brush or spray on was so minimal, and the cooking time so quick, that it did not have time to be absorbed by the chicken.   All you'll be tasting is chicken, cheese and pasta sauce...yum, yum, yum!!!

There you have it, no fry chicken taken to an ultimate level.  Enjoy!
Mary Cokenour