I started the Bon Appétit Challenge after seeing the movie Julie and Julia earlier this year. The challenge is to cook the cover recipe of every Bon Appétit magazine that I have and cannot bring myself to throw out. Who was I kidding!? I have BA magazines dating back to the 1990’s – you would think I could part with those… and I did. All but the Special Issues. “Hoarders” here I come 😉
The September 2008 issue of Bon Appétit is one of their annual Special Restaurant Issues and includes recipes from renowned chefs, rising talent, and a directory of regional restaurants featured in the issue. A mouthwatering, cheesy Chicken Parm from Mario Batali’s restaurant, Otto, in New York City, is the cover recipe. Chicken Parmesan is The Don’s favorite Italian dish, so I tried my hand at it, but not without a little tinkering in an attempt to make it a tad healthier for him – mainly cutting the amount of cheese by nearly a third. Still cheesy enough to be mouthwatering, don’t you think?
Also, the original recipe is for 10 servings – so I cut it in half, and the sauce calls for canned tomatoes – I used fresh tomatoes (the last from our garden), quickly blanched to remove the skin. Of course, you don’t have to do this, in fact, when I make Chicken Parmigiana I usually use a low-sodium, organic marinara sauce from Trader Joes to make things easier.
Edited 1/7/17 – As a result of a recent feature on The Chew, I updated the recipe format.
- 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
- 1 c. fresh breadcrumbs* from crustless French bread ground in a processor
- 1 lg. egg
- 1/2 c. flour
- 3 T. olive oil divided use
- 1 c. coarsely grated well-draned fresh water-packed mozzarella divided use*
- 3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 c. freshly grated Romano cheese*
- 2 T. Italian parsley chopped
- 1 t. marjoram optional
- For the Sauce:
- 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2/3 c. chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 med. carrots peeled and finely chopped
- 1 t. dried thyme
- 1 28 oz. can peeled whole tomatoes in juice coarsely chopped
- or 6 large fresh tomatoes, blanched, peeled, and coarsely chopped
- Heat olive oil in large saucepan over med heat. Add onions and garlic; saute until onions are soft about 5 minutes. Add carrots and thyme, saute until carrots are soft, about 5 more minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, bring to a gentle boil, lower heat and simmer until sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper. May be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate.
Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound chicken breasts to 1/3 inch thickness. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Spread bread crumbs on a plate. Whisk egg to blend in a medium blow. Spread flour on another plate. Coat both sides of chicken with flour, then eggs, then breadcrumbs.
Preheat oven to 350. Heat 2 T. oil in large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add chicken to skillet and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed (chicken will not be cooked through). Meanwhile, spread 1 c. sauce over bottom of baking dish. Arrange chicken breasts over sauce. Spoon another cup of sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and marjoram.
Adapted from Mario Batali’s Basic Tomato Sauce from his Molto Italiano cookbook.
* Gluten free breadcrumbs can be substitute. Fresh water-packed mozzarella is available in many supermarkets and at specialty food stores – regular mozzarella can be substituted. I eliminated the Romano cheese because I always try not to use as much cheese – trust me, it’s still delicious.
Molto bene! Add a simple side of caesar salad or sauteed spinach. Do as the Italian’s do and serve with a Chianti Classico 🙂