While recovering from dental surgery, Alex was on soft diet for days. When she was ready to eat regular food again, she made a request. Chicken Parmigiana with angel hair pasta.
The photos had been sitting in my hard drive for almost two weeks. I had mostly forgotten about them until last night when we were watching “Salvation” on Netflix.
If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s about an asteroid that will hit Earth in 186 days and likely to wipe out the human race. I asked Alex what she’d do if life were to end in 186 days. She’d eat everything she wanted, she replied without hesitation, and never worry about putting on weight. Except, she added thoughtfully, that if life didn’t end after all, getting rid of the added weight would be a problem. True, true. Ha ha ha
What about the last night? If the world were to end tomorrow, what did she want for her last dinner? Chicken Parmigiana, she said. It’s her comfort food. And that made me remember that I still hadn’t posted the recipe for chicken Parmigiana. I resolved to do that before we resume watching “Salvation” tonight.
What is chicken Parmigiana exactly? It’s fried chicken steak smothered with tomato sauce, topped with cheese and baked. It can be served by itself, accompanied with bread or a side salad, or laid on top of pasta or rice.
To make chicken Parmigiana with angel hair pasta, start by cooking the tomato sauce so that it will have a chance to cool while you prep the chicken.
Cook the tomato sauce? Yes, commercial tomato sauce won’t do justice to the dish. The best tomato sauce for chicken Parmigiana is chunky with a hefty amount of garlic thrown in.
When the tomato sauce is done, pound the chicken fillets then sprinkle generously with seasoning. Salt and pepper will do but herb salt is even better. I used Alex’s Italian blend herb salt.
Next, dredge the chicken fillets in flour, dip in beaten egg the coat with bread crumbs. We use panko at home because it makes a crispier coating.
Fry the chicken in hot oil until golden and crisp. Remember to flip for even cooking.
Lay the fried chicken fillets on a baking tray. Spread a tablespoonful or two of tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan then top with slices of mozzarella. Bake just until the cheeses melt.
While the chicken fillets are in the oven, toss cooked angel hair pasta in the remaining tomato sauce. Heap pasta into bowls and, when the chicken is done, top each bowl of pasta with a piece of chicken. Serve while the cheeses are hot and gooey.
Chicken Parmigiana With Angel Hair Pasta
Using a mallet, pound the chicken fillets to a uniform thickness of about a quarter inch.
Sprinkle the chicken fillets generously with salt and pepper.
Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Beat the egg in another shallow bowl. Dump the panko in a third shallow bowl.
Dredge each chicken fillet in flour, dip in egg then coat with panko.
Preheat the oven to 450F.
In a frying pan, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of one inch.
Fry the chicken fillets, in batches if necessary, until the coating is golden and crisp, about three to four minutes per side.
Scoop out the fried chicken fillets and arrange on a baking tray lined with foil, non-stick paper or silicone mat.
Spread a tablespoonful or two of tomato sauce on each chicken fillet.
Sprinkle Parmesan generously on top of the tomato sauce.
Lay a slice of mozzarella on top of the Parmesan.
Bake the chicken fillets for a minute or two, or just until the cheeses are melted.
Reheat the tomato sauce and toss in the angel hair pasta.
Heap pasta into bowls and top with the baked chicken.
Serve the chicken Parmigiana with angel hair pasta immediately.
If cooking only two or three chicken fillets and using the oven is too wasteful energy-wise, you can melt the cheese with a kitchen torch.