July 13, 2006

Parmigiano-Crusted Chicken

Parmigiano-Reggiano interesting facts:
* one of the earliest literary sources to remark on this extraordinary cheese is Boccaccio's Decameron (in the 1300s) - "...and there was a whole mountain of Parmigiano cheese, all finely grated, on top of which stood people who were doing nothing but making macaroni and ravioli"
* Cristoforo di Messisbugo, a chef at the court of Estense di Ferrara and Martino de' Rossi at the house of Francesco Sforza in Milano described a private dinner held on January 17th, 1543 in which the dessert course included as an accompaniment to pears and grapes, apple, peaches, kiwi and figs, "six platesful of Parmigiano cheese," a combination rediscovered by contemporary gourmets as a perfect finale to a grand dinner.
* it takes 600 kg of milk to make one round of cheese and it has been made essentially the same way for over 800 years
* here is what the Accidental Hedonist wrote about parmigiano-reggiano

Parmigiano-Crusted Chicken

from The Cheese Lover's Cookbook and Guide

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
4 ounces parmigiano-reggiano, grated
2 tsp minced fresh thyme
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 to 4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
8 sprigs fresh thyme, for garnish
1 lemon, thinly sliced, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a baking pan large enough to hold the chicken.

Wash chicken and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Place flour on plate or waxed paper. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl. Combine the bread crumbs, parmigiano, thyme, and lemon zest on another plate or waxed paper. Dredge each chicken breast in the flour, shaking off any excess, then dip in the egg, and finally into the bread crumb mixture. Be sure to evenly coat the chicken at each step. Place in the baking pan. Divide the remaining crumbs equally among the breasts, patting them onto the chicken.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Brush the olive oil onto the bread-crumb crust. Return the chicken to the oven and cook for 15 to 25 minutes or until the breasts are golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes. Garnish with thyme sprigs and lemon slices and serve.

Notes: I halved the recipe. Also, I didn't have fresh thyme on hand so I used some dried thyme and skipped the garnish. And it came out pretty well and definitely featured the cheese as the primary flavor so the finer the cheese is, the better the dish will be. I recommend a quality import.

Posted by Jennifer at July 13, 2006 4:40 AM | TrackBack

Quite tasty, with the parmesan definitely being the featured flavor. The crust didn't bind particularly well to the chicken, so it was a bit delicate, but still delicious.

Posted by: Michael at July 17, 2006 8:48 PM
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