The Last Supper (well, not exactly…)

This will be my last “heavy food” post for awhile (I think so, anyway). I had to post it since dinner was really good. We called this meal my husband’s “last supper” because he is really going to be changing everything he eats for the new year and this certainly did not fit into that new lifestyle plan! We had this a few nights ago and are already craving something just like it again!

What better dish could a good Italian boy have for a “last supper” than Chicken Parm??? It was pretty awesome, if I say so myself! I have made this dish many times before (that would be why we are in the position we are in to change how we eat). However, I decided to also take a peek at a new Italian cookbook I received from My Aunt Fran and Uncle Joe (good Philly folks) to see how Chicken Parmigiana was prepared in it. Aunt Fran is friends with the author, Mary Falbo, who has put together a collection of her mother’s old world Italian recipes. The cookbook is Giovanna’s Legacy and the recipes look fabulous. I will be working on making them “healthy” in the New Year! Anyway, it seems that Giovanna and I are on the same page as far as cooking this dish.

So, I prepared the chicken as I normally would have, except I added the flour step prior to the breadcrumbs (Giovanna’s suggestion). I think it did add a little more crispiness to the chicken. Since I do not add much butter/olive oil to the pan (that’s part of my constant diet), I generally do not get a really crispy crust. That is okay because the chicken gets covered up with sauce anyway. I also normally put the chicken in the oven with the tomato sauce and bake it with both the mozzarella and parmesan reggiano cheeses. Giovanna suggested doing the parmesan first and then the mozzarella, so I did that. I needed to put the broiler on just for a few seconds to get the mozzarella cheese to melt and brown just a little bit to finish the dish.

Since I was writing blogs all day and doing other things around the house, I cheated and used another bottle of Del Grosso’s sauce. (It was 8:30 pm by the time we ate dinner!) This time we tried the tomato and basil (gosh, it is so good…why make sauce??). Even I said that I have not had Chicken Parmigiana this good in a restaurant! Yum, what a great last supper!

I served it with a side a spaghetti (of course) and a really nice salad with mixed lettuces, olives, mushrooms and avocados (that is what was in the fridge and cupboard). We always use a great olive oil (the one we had that night is direct from our trip to Tuscany) and a good, or great if you can afford it, balsamic vinegar.

Since this dinner would be for my hubby, here is his quote on our outstanding wine we had that evening. “Chicken Parmigiana requires a wine of substance. One might assume a Chianti Classico would be appropriate to serve with this dish, however, an Italian Super Tuscan (Sangiovese, Cabernet and Cab Franc) possesses the depth of flavor to complement Chicken Parmigiana. Therefore, I chose a bottle of Tignanello. It has a wonderful bouquet of leather (like a horse saddle), tobacco, dark fruits, black currant, and a slight sign of olives. The wine showed gorgeous dark fruits on the palate, plums, cherries and berries with a touch of vanilla to balance out fruitiness. We shared a bottle of the 1998 vintage. This wine has reached its peak and should be used within the next few years. If this is a last supper drink, we can only hope to have more last suppers.” This would be a direct quote from my hubby the wine expert!

Here is the recipe with some additions by Giovanna:

Chicken Parmigiana
Serves 2-3

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Flour (optional)
2 eggs, beaten
Italian breadcrumbs
Olive oil
Unsalted butter (optional)
Marinara or Tomato Basil sauce (homemade or cheat)
Mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded
Parmigiana Reggiano (a really good one)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pound your chicken breasts until they are flattened into cutlets. Dip cutlets into flour that has been seasoned well with salt and pepper (you can skip this step if you like). Dip chicken into beaten egg and then breadcrumbs. Pour enough olive oil in the pan to have a coat the bottom of the skillet. (I use a mixture of half butter and half olive oil. Be careful not to burn the butter if you use both since it burns at a lower temperature). Cooking over medium heat, brown on one side of the chicken (about 5-6 minutes) and then turn and brown on the other side.

Spray a large casserole dish with Pam or lightly oil it. Put the chicken breasts in the dish and cover the breasts with the sauce (I just use enough to cover the chicken, otherwise, I think it gets too mushy). You can either grate some parmesan reggiano over the sauce and bake the chicken for about 20 minutes until it is done, adding the mozzarella about 5 minutes before the chicken is cooked (Giovanna’s suggestion). Or you can put mozzarella cheese and then the parmesan reggiano on top of the cutlets and bake 20-25 minutes until cooked through. Either way will work.

I have also been known to add sauteed mushrooms which makes for an even heartier dish. I would have thrown them in had there been some in the fridge.

To finish off this gluttonous supper, we just happened to have an extra creme brulee lying around, so we had a few bites of that along with a few bites from a slice of flourless chocolate cake from foodie neighbor friends (it was so good!). That would be the end of the big food for awhile and we enjoyed every bite and every sip of wine.

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