September 8, 2012

Geri's Chicken Parm

Of of the many delightful things Andrew has brought into my life, our friends Bernie and Geri have to be among the top. They were Andrew's neighbors during his childhood in New York, watched him grow up from 18 months old, and have been practically family ever since. They are full of New York experiences and have the colorful stories to go with them. So during these visits to the beach, we spend less time at the beach and more time on Bernie and Geri's screened porch, listening to mullets jump in the lake and talking about friends and family.

Before I even met Bernie and Geri, Andrew was swooning over Geri's chicken parmesan. She makes it in an old electric griddle that has no doubt enjoyed many a chicken parm before she was making it for me and Andrew. And this chicken parm is indeed swoon-worthy. The cutlets are so thin and uniform, the breading crispy but in no way distracting from the chicken, the mozzarella fresh and whole, and the sauce homemade by Bernie himself.

While I could never presume to provide a recipe that duplicates the chicken parm goodness that I now associate with my dear friends and Hilton Head Island, I can provide gorgeous photos of the process itself, including Geri's countertop griddle. Whatever your chicken parmesan recipe may be, try it one day in a griddle with a lid and make your own sauce.

Geri's Chicken Parm

4 or 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 eggs
Breadcrumbs (Geri uses Progresso)
8 ounces mozzarella
Tomato sauce
Spaghetti, cooked al dente right before serving

Prepare cutlets by making two horizontal cuts in each chicken breast. So you should end up with about three cutlets per chicken breast. Place cutlets in a plastic bag and pound with a meat pulverizer until thin. (We weren't around for the chicken far as I know, they showed up magically in the freezer, perfectly cutlet-ed and ready to cook. But Bernie tells me this is how he does it.)

Beat eggs and add a little water. Pour about 1 cup of breadcrumbs onto a plate. Dip each cutlet into the egg wash and then into breadcrumbs for a light coating. No need to have any more breading than that. 

Head a grill pan or griddle to about 400 F (medium high) and cover with about 2 teaspoons olive oil. When oil is melted, you're ready to go!

Cover oiled grill pan with cutlets, cooking for about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and crispy.

Once all the cutlets are golden brown, transfer them to a plate and start with a new batch.

Freeze any extra cutlets for quick preparation later. Or give them to someone who really needs chicken parm in their lives. (We now several cutlets in our home freezer.)

Cover top of cutlets with sliced fresh mozzarella. Make sure each cutlet has a good chunk of mozz on top.

Thinly spread tomato sauce on top of cutlets, again making sure that each piece has a good amount.

(Oh heavenly goodness.)

Now you're ready to bake! If cooking these in a regular pan, bake around 350 for 15-20 minutes. When the cheese bubbles and gets toasty and golden, you're done.

The smell will be ridiculous.

Serve with spaghetti, extra sauce, and a light green salad. If possible, chicken parm is even better the next day, made into a toasted sandwich. 

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