Friday, August 17, 2007

Breaded Chicken Breasts and Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Raw Tomato Sauce

I took the inspiration for this dish from a few different recipes in my Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition. I wanted to create a summertime version of Chicken Parmesan, which was my absolute favorite thing to order at restaurants when I was a kid. I've branched out since then, but it was still really nice to make this for myself after a not so great day at work. I guess it's still one of my comfort foods!

To qualify this as a "summertime" version, I used a simple raw tomato sauce instead of a hot marinara, and I tore up a piece of fresh mozzarella instead of (ugh) turning on the oven and melting shredded cheese over the cutlets. To make the pasta a little more interesting, I used an aglio e oilo (or garlic and oil) sauce.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup dry Italian or plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
Salt & pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 egg, beaten with a splash of water
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
8 ounces spaghetti
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 large or 4 small tomotoes, seeded and chopped
2 medium sized boccioni of fresh mozzarella, torn or chopped into bite-size pieces

Get a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.

Combine the chopped tomatoes, 1 tablespoon each of basil and olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

Remove any fat around the edges of the chicken breasts, and butterfly cut them open (like a book), then cut in half lengthwise down the middle, so you have two pieces of equal size. Place the chicken pieces between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap and pound each with a blunt object (mallet, rolling pin, heavy trivet, etc.) to flatten.

Combine the bread crumbs, parmesan, 1 tablespoon basil, 1 teaspoon salt (omit salt if you're using Italian bread crumbs--they already have enough sodium!), and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a wide, shallow bowl, pie plate, or round cake pan . Put the egg in another shallow bowl, and spread the flour on a plate. Coat the chicken with the flour and shake off the excess. Dip in the egg, then coat with the bread crumb mixture, patting with your fingers or tongs to make sure the crumbs adhere. Set aside on a plate.

Throw the pasta in the now boiling water, and heat 1/3 cup of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side. The time will depend on how thinly you pounded the chicken. When it's done, drain the chicken on a plate covered in paper towels.

In a small skillet, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until the garlic just starts to turn color, about 2 minutes. Be very careful not to burn it. Drain the pasta over a small bowl in the sink to capture the cooking water. Put the pasta back in the pot and toss with the oil and garlic, adding a ladle-ful of the pasta cooking water. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, place a serving of pasta in a shallow bowl or plate, and top with one of the chicken pieces. Spoon over the raw tomato sauce and pieces of fresh mozzarella.

Rating: This is awesome
It was a bit decadent with all of the olive oil going on, but it was very tasty. The only bad part is that I made such a mess making it! Time to go clean the kitchen I!


Daniel said...

Hey, I used this recipe for a Father's Day meal and everyone enjoyed it.

I used garden vegetable jack cheese, and whole-wheat rotini. Thanks for the great idea!

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