The Complete Idiot's Guide to: V-Day Chicken Parmesan

With the biggest sports game in America now over with, us ladies have exactly six days until the biggest commercialized holiday of the year. And what's the best way to a man's heart? Well football is over, so his stomach, of course.

Women are simple. We are materialistic. Give us something shiny and take us out on the 2nd busiest restaurant day of the year (falling behind only to Mother's Day) and we are happy.

Men are even simpler. Cook them a meal, get them a beer, and you've scored the winning touchdown of Valentine's Day meals. On Sunday, make sure he takes you out to eat early, because with this chicken parmesan you're going to make him, you'll need an appetite.

Ingredients

• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 bay leaves
• 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
• 1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves
• 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
• Pinch sugar
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 11/2 pounds)
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1 cup dried bread crumbs
• 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh buffalo mozzarella, water drained
• Freshly grated Parmesan
• 1 pound spaghetti pasta*, cooked al dente

Directions

Coat a sauté pan with olive oil and place over medium heat. When the oil gets hazy, add the onions, garlic, and bay leaves; cook and stir for 5 minutes until fragrant and soft. Add the olives and some hand-torn basil. Carefully add the tomatoes, cook and stir until the liquid is cooked down and the sauce is thick (about 15 minutes); season with sugar, salt and pepper. Lower the heat and cover.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Get the ingredients together for the chicken so you have a little assembly line. Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them. Pound the chicken breasts with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/2-inch thick. Put the flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, combine the eggs and water, beat until frothy. Put the bread crumbs on a plate, season with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high flame in a large oven-proof skillet. Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off, then dredge in the bread crumbs. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once.

Ladle the tomato-olive sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with mozzarella, Parmesan, and basil. Bake the Chicken Parmesan for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve hot with spaghetti.

*The recipe calls for spaghetti, but penne, shells, or any pasta of your liking works. In fact, if you're looking to 86 the pasta, shoot for asparagus or green beans as a healthy side dish.

Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence.

Got room for dessert? Check out some tasty treats Blue Bell puts together for you. (Number two works great!)


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