Our friend Sebastian is leaving for Malawi tomorrow as part of the work he does setting up sustainable health care in Africa, and I wanted to send him off with a hearty home cooked meal. On the menu tonight was chicken parmigiana, an Italian staple, although I do manage to “healthify” it by baking the chicken cutlets rather than frying them. While you may think baking chicken dries it out, this method actually preserves the juiciness, so it’s nearly impossible to tell that I didn’t fry it in a skillet full of oil. I gave the chicken an egg wash, then dipped it in bread crumb and baked it in a glass casserole dish at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. I took it out of the oven, flipped the pieces, topped them with sauce and fresh mozzarella and baked the chicken for 10 more minutes covered, followed by 5 minutes uncovered. (I also make plain chicken cutlets using the same method, only instead of sauce and cheese, I brush a mixture of Good Seasons dressing or, if I don’t have that on hand, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, on the chicken five minutes before it comes out of the oven.) The key to delectable chicken parm is to use fresh mozzarella. It’s more expensive then pre-packaged cheese, but so worth splurging on. It gives the dish an amazing flavor, and clings to the chicken really well.
Along with the chicken, I made a beet salad and steamed artichokes. (Below, Sebastian takes a closer look at the arties before devouring one of them. I happily ate the other.) We also had some of the pesto pasta salad I made on Friday, along with a bottle of Ubaldo 2007 Syrah. As a Christmas gift, my cousins gave us a 3-month membership to the California Wine Club and we liked their wines so much we ordered a case! Now I’m settling in for a little knitting, reading, and Desperate Housewives. Safe travels Seb. We’ll see you in a few weeks!