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Cooking Up A Storm.

January 19, 2010

We’re trying to make cooking at home a more regular routine around here, so Erik and I broke out Jamie’s Food Revolution for another exciting night in the kitchen! I was a bit more ambivalent as to what we should cook, so I let Erik decide on our main entree. The winner: Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Crispy Posh Ham (found on page 242). Sounds fancy, no? But so uncomplicated!

  • Just watch:

The instructions say to grate your Parmesan, but we just bought pre-grated cheese. It also includes 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, but then you pick off the leaves from the stalk. I put mine in a tiny coffee cup to keep them from getting lost. While I was attending to the thyme, Erik took control of the chicken. He carefully scored (cut) the underside of the chicken breast in a criss-cross fashioned.

That means he cut into them, but not all the way (chicken breast stays breast-sized). Then he seasoned with a bit of pepper and sprinkled the thyme over the chicken – but leave a little thyme left! We didn’t do that and ended up putting more thyme on the chicken later leaving us with a very thyme-y chicken.

Erik grated a bit of lemon over the chicken as well, and then sprinkled the chickens with 1 1/4 ounces of Parmesan.

He laid down 3 slices of prosciutto on each chicken breast and then drizzled a little olive oil and sprinkled the rest of the thyme leaves.

After this, he wrapped the top layer with plastic wrap and used the bottom of the frying pan to squish the chicken breast. The way to get the chicken to cook faster is to have it thin, like 1/2 an inch. My father used to do this with an actual pounding contraption (I’m sure these things have names, but I don’t know what it is) and it would make a very loud banging sound. Being in an apartment building, I didn’t feel like having that go on, so Erik just pushed the pan down. Having said that, I recommend pounding because the chicken breast really didn’t get as squished as it needed to be and Erik’s chicken ended up being slightly undercooked, which required a bit of nuking.

Cooking the chicken was a two-step process: One chicken, and then the other, because our pan was not that big. We literally just drizzled some olive oil on the pan and cooked the chicken for 3 minutes on each side, turning halfway, and gave the ham side a tad bit longer to crisp (Jamie says 30 seconds). You start with the ham side, though, and then turn to the the non-ham side.

That’s it!

We added some mashed potatoes (the boxed flavor!) and some baby spinach salad with a Raspberry Vinaigrette on the side.

  • Final Thoughts:
  • We thought this was an easy and simple way to spice up an ordinary chicken breast. There were only six ingredients total, and three of them are things you might already have in your cupboard or fridge (thyme, pepper and Parmesan cheese). My only thought is that we could have used more Parmesan than they recommended, or used the kind of grated cheese that leaves it in tiny slices, instead of the normal powdered variety. It just wasn’t as cheesy as I felt it should be, but it was still delicious. And the great part is: no carbs!

    1. Arielle permalink
      January 19, 2010 11:13 AM

      You can get a big hunk of real Italian Parmesan for $10, and it lasts forever. It’s pretty much the best tasting thing in the world. You will never want to use the canned stuff again.

      • January 19, 2010 7:04 PM

        I already have a feeling I would love it! Canned stuff is gross.

    2. tmana permalink
      January 19, 2010 12:33 PM

      The pounding/thinning/hammering device is sometimes called a meat tenderizer, and sometimes a mallet. One side of the head is usually shaped with regular diamond-sized protrusions; the other side is solid.

      The pounding is usually less noisy if the meat has been placed on a butcher block (or thick wooden cutting/chopping board).

      (Note: while wood is considered to have natural antibacterial properties, I don’t use the same cutting boards for raw and cooked meats, and I use a bleach rinse after I’ve scoured away all the visible bits of food just to make sure.)

      • January 19, 2010 1:10 PM

        THANK YOU! I knew it had a name… We use plastic cutting boards that we run through the dishwasher, so I think we’re safe.

    3. January 19, 2010 5:36 PM

      Looks good!

    4. January 19, 2010 6:54 PM

      Sigh, I wish I could cook. Good for you.

      • January 19, 2010 6:56 PM

        It’s not as hard as it sounds if you pick something that doesn’t involve a lot of legwork. This literally took us about 15 minutes to make and really is as easy as tossing some ingredients on a chicken breast. Get a good cookbook (we like Jamie a lot now!) and try it out.

    5. January 20, 2010 11:24 AM

      Looks good! I need to get one of those hammering things; I picked up a recipe a few months ago including stuffing a chicken breast (but bashing it first) and I’m too scared to do it with a rolling pin for fear of breaking things lol!

    6. January 20, 2010 3:04 PM

      Good for you! I never thought of making something like this and will be trying it soon.

      Here’s the thing for you non-cookers: It’s two things that count. Technique and Flavor.

      Now you have the chicken breast smashing technique down. Use a mallet, or a frying pan, or a rolling pin, or a wine bottle. Just smush it down a bit. It allows for quicker, more even cooking. You can also use it on turkey breasts or pork or any piece of meat that is of uneven thickness.

      And you have the flavors that work in your arsenal now too. Thyme + chicken is always right. Since chicken breast is fairly neutral in flavor, you can bump it up with the salty ham, which is further accented with the parmesan that crisps up quickly in the pan and offers a texture difference. If you don’t have prosciutto, try smearing the breast with dijon mustard before you put on the parmesan.

      Pairing with spinach is perfect – it needs a dark, stronger green to balance the overall flavors. Arugula would also be a good choice.

      I can’t wait to see what you cook next!

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