Friday, March 6, 2009

Tastes Like Chicken

Last night I was trying to decide what to do with a package of chicken that would be a delicious and un-boring dinner. There are a million things you can do with a chicken. It's probably the most versatile meat around. Still, we get set in our ways, and generally will choose between the same hand full of recipes every time. I decided to make a simple and juicy Chicken Milanese complimented with my absolute favorite Pomodoro sauce (adapted from Al Forno's version), which is excellent on everything! I've used it on pasta and even on pizzas and it is so much better than jarred sauces. It's thicker than marinara and is very easy to make. Definitely try the sauce on it's own, even if you don't want to make chicken or don't eat meat. Like I said, it all started out served over pasta! Also, the sauce freezes well, so I usually will make a large batch and then freeze it in individual containers for whenever I need some sauce. Chicken Milanese isn't traditionally served with tomatoes, but it can be, and is also sometimes served topped with fresh arugula. To be honest, I rarely measure ingredients for dishes like this. When breading chicken, use your judgment. If you need more bread crumbs, add more, and so on. Here is my take on Chicken Milanese...

Chicken Milanese with Pomodoro Sauce
Serves 6

6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
3 eggs, beaten with a little water
1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs
Olive oil and/or butter for frying
Pomodoro Sauce (see below)

Place each chicken breast one at a time between plastic wrap and use the flat side of a meat mallet (or the bottom of a bottle if you don't have one) to pound the chicken breasts to about 1/4 inch thickness (the chicken will be very flat and large). Arrange a breading station with large shallow bowls or other containers side by side as so: seasoned flour, eggs, then bread crumbs. One by one, dredge each chicken breast on both sides with flour, then eggs, making sure to drain off most of the egg, then in bread crumbs and set aside.

When all the dredging is complete, heat up 1-2 T of olive oil and/or butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Olive oil has a high burning temperature, so only fry with it if your meat is thin enough to cook through before the crust starts to burn. Never deep fry in olive oil. Your food will burn. Butter has a lower burning temperature, so feel free to use half olive oil and half butter to achieve the flavor of the oil and the burning temperature of the butter when cooking your chicken. If you hate both options, use vegetable oil and I won't tell anyone you did.

Add one or two breasts to the pan at a time, alternating their positions and flipping them over to ensure even cooking (since the pan is heated more in the center, the outer edges of the chicken won't brown or cook through as quickly, thus it is best to flip flop outside to inside once before flipping over, especially if you are using a large pan). Cook through on both sides, adjusting the heat as necessary so the chicken cooks through without burning the crust.

Remove the chicken to a paper towel-lined tray and set aside until all the chicken is cooked. Serve chicken topped with a generous spoonful of pomodoro sauce.

The Best Pomodoro Sauce You Will Ever Have
(Adapted from On Top of Spaghetti)
Makes about 5 to 6 cups

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 T minced fresh garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
3 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes, with their juices

Heat the olive oil, garlic, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Keep a close watch and adjust the heat if necessary because you want the garlic to slowly turn from opaque white to slightly translucent golden without browning. As soon as the garlic is lightly golden, immediately add the wine and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the garlic is soft and has taken on a nutty color, and the liquid as reduced by half.

Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Use a potato masher to lightly break apart some of the tomatoes. The sauce will still be chunky, but this will help some of the tomatoes break down a bit and thicken the sauce. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or as long as it takes for most of the liquid to evaporate and the sauce to thicken nicely. Yum!!


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