Hello! Chef BigFatPanda here!
Again, I apologize for not posting in quite some time. My friends know the reason, and I’d like to open up to you about it as well. My Mom was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in January of this year. She passed away on August 28th. As you may have read, she was very influential in my life (as most mothers are), but even more so when it came to her passion for cooking.
While life will never be the same, it does go on. Her name was Anna, and all prayers for her are most appreciated. I know she would love knowing she was mentioned here. Thank you!
Today we are going to make an Oven-Baked Chicken Parmesan from Mama Melrose’s at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Let’s face it, most of us go weak at the knees for a good chicken parmesan, no? I know I do. I’m always looking for that crunchy outside, tender inside and balance of cheese and sauce that can even make my non-Italian friends ask for more.
Well, look no further. If you have been reading my column, you know I tell it like it is and I can absolutely give you my seal of approval on this recipe and then some (with a few alterations).
As usual, the recipe’s instructions will be bolded for easy reference should you wish to print this out and skip my commentary. I’d like you to NOT do that since I am turning 40 in a few weeks and relish my dwindling relevancy.
There really are 2 parts to this recipe: you first create the breadcrumb mixture, then actually create the dish. The recipe does not cover how to cook pasta, how to make or use canned sauce, how to clean chicken or sprinkle on Mozzarella cheese. It assumes you know these things.
I am using a canned sauce for this recipe, but encourage you to make your own if possible. Email me privately for my family recipe. Seriously, if you want a good Tomato Sauce recipe, send me an Email or tweet me @DisneyWorlds.
This recipe mostly focuses on the breading for the chicken. I must confess that I have always started with 4C Italian prepared bread crumbs and added some cheese and parsley. This is the first time I have purchased and used plain bread crumbs. It does give a more authentic flavor.
For Chicken Breading, YOU WILL NEED:
1 ½ pounds bread crumbs
½ ounce granulated garlic
½ ounce onion powder
1 tablespoon parsley flakes, dry
¾ ounce Kosher salt
½ fresh ground black pepper
1 ½ ounce fresh grated Pecorino Romano
1 tablespoon basil, dry
1 tablespoon oregano, dry
1 tablespoon whole marjoram, dry
1 – 2 ounces olive oil
Most of the ingredients are straightforward. I called my friend Todd Perlmutter, who helped me locate Kosher Salt. I call him and his wife Cheryl for all my Jewish needs. If you can’t locate Kosher salt, try and use sea salt or, yes, even regular table salt if you need to.
1. Combine all ingredients (except for eggs and olive oil) and mix well
So, all those ingredients EXCEPT THE EGGS AND OLIVE OIL are just going to be stirred and mixed in a very large bowl. These are now prepared bread crumbs.
Alterations that I would make are: tripling the amount of cheese (Pecorino Romano), garlic, and oregano – yes, I said triple. And, I would double the amount of salt. The last thing you want to do is go through all this work for a bland dinner. A pound and a half of bread crumbs is a lot.
2. Lightly beat all the eggs until fluffy. Dip the chicken into eggwash, shake lightly, and then dredge in breading.
I love the way they say “dredge in breading.” Isn’t there a better word? Submerge? Coat? No, they chose dredge. Just sounds like an army sergeant wrote it.
My hands look kind of icky and it is an icky job – I mean, I was eggin’ and dredging!
3. In a heated sauté pan add 1 to 2 oz of olive oil. Heat until hot and add breaded chicken. Cook until golden brown. Finish in oven until internal temperature is 165 degrees.
I won’t lie, I used more oil than that. I figured I’d come clean ’cause you would call me on it. I made sure I coated the bottom of the pan about a quarter of an inch. The chicken became a gorgeous golden brown.
Now, the recipe did not specify how high to heat the oven or for how long to keep the chicken in. I went with 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. No, I did not test them with a thermometer, although that is recommended for safety. I split the thickest one open (off camera) and saw that it was fully cooked through, perhaps even a tad overcooked. I like my chicken fully cooked. Some restaurants have served me chicken about 10 seconds from pink and although that is considered acceptable, I rather have it more cooked than not.
I put some sauce and Mozzarella cheese on the breasts and put them back in the oven for about 7 minutes. They were amazingly delicious and very moist and tender. I would make this again in a heartbeat.
The truth was, they didn’t even need the sauce or cheese – they were fantastic as-is with the breading. Like an Italian Fried Chicken with a nod to the Southerners.
Please, as always, let me know what you think. I won’t be gone for this long this time. I enjoy sharing these recipes with you!
Thank you for allowing me into your kitchen and keep wishing on those stars. Big Hugs!
Thanks again, John! Watch for Chef BigFatPanda’s column posts right here!