Wednesday, January 6, 2010

dinner: it looks better than it tasted. mostly.

Yesterday afternoon I had the culinary revelation that chicken parm is not that far from chicken katsu. I've never made chicken parmigiana (I can't even spell it according to my web browser's spell check) but I've made chicken katsu plenty of times. Pound some chicken breasts, bread it, fry it and you've got chicken katsu. Add sauce and cheese and broil it and you've got chicken parmigiana, right?

Well, maybe (I'm too lazy to look it up right now). But last night's efforts didn't turn out so great (don't let the flashy photography fool you).

What's up with that wooden spoon handle right in the middle of the photo? Let's call it an arty composition and go with that.

I think the error of my chicken parm came from the fact that I did not have any sauce in the house, just a large can of crushed tomatoes which I didn't doctor in any way before I spooned it atop the lovely little fried chicken fillets (by the way, pounded, breaded, fried chicken breasts cut up into thinner strips = chicken tenders when served with bbq and honey mustard sauce. Ta-dah!). Back to the chicken parm snafu...

Then after I spooned my lame excuse for sauce on my chicken breasts and covered them with cheese, I stuck them in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes. Instead of hitting them with the broiler. So the sauce made the fried chicken breasts all soggy. Sigh. It was getting late, I was tired and distracted.

I served this with some store bought gnocchi and the sauce. By the time the chicken was in the oven, I was able to remember to do something to the sauce so that it wasn't just crushed tomatoes heated up and spooned over gnocchi. Still meh, but better.

Oh and in case you think that I served this meal with no vegetables in sight, there's some steamed broccoli under that plate on the right of above photo. And I served Cheryl's zucchini squares (pictured again below) which really can't count as a vegetable because it's more like a savory cake or tart or something (4 eggs! and really zucchini is a squash and squashes are a starch and not a green vegetable despite the color of their skins, right?). But oh, I do love Cheryl's zucchini squares and finally got the recipe from her so I had to make it last night. Of course, tired and distracted as I was I managed to fudge this dish as well. Not that you can tell from the photo, right?

It was supposed to be baked in a 9"x13" pan instead of this 8" (8"? or maybe 9") square dish I used. So the squares aren't as flat as they're supposed to be and so the middle didn't cook as thoroughly as it should have done. Nothing that a quick trip through mr. microwave can't fix. But still.

Also, the recipe calls for 1cup of bisquick which is something that I don't ever carry in the house. I think I did okay figuring out a substitute for it though.

Also, the recipe calls for 4 eggs and I didn't realize until it was too late that I only had 3 eggs in the house and no time to run (waddle) out for more eggs. I tried to fix it by adding about 1/4 cup of whole milk to the batter. That's a wild guess. I didn't even measure it out but just poured until the batter reached a consistency that I guessed was right. What the hell was I thinking? I'd never made this dish before. How was I supposed to know what "correct consistency" meant?? Might have been too much milk. I would know this if I had used the proper pan that I was too lazy to dig out because maybe the slightly undercooked middle had to do with too much milk and not the size/aspect ratio of the pan. Are you still with me?

Also, the recipe calls for grated parmesan and I used pecorino romano (yum!). That wasn't an f-up. I liked the flavor with the different cheese. Same with my omission of seasoned salt, snipped parsley and additional pepper to taste - whoops! Seems I forgot to read the recipe carefully.

Also, and this is a personal thing: the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of finely chopped onion which I thought gave the dish a fine flavour. I ate like 4 squares last night at dinner. I had two for breakfast. M had one. He's not a huge fan of onion. I'm thinking next time around I'll just use 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion or thereabouts. I think it'll still taste good.

The thing about this recipe is that it's very forgiving. So even if you use different herbs or omit some of the seasoning, it still turns out great.

Cheryl’s Zucchini Squares

3 C of thinly sliced unpeeled zucchini (about 4 small ones)
1 C of Bisquick

(or sub with 1 Cup of flour
2 1/3 tsp of baking powder
2/3 tsp of salt
2/3 TBSP of sugar)

1/2 C of finely chopped onion (dried can be used)
1/2 C of grated parmesan
2 TBSP snipped parsley (or dried equivalent)
1/2 – 1 tsp seasoned salt (regular salt is fine)
1/2 tsp dried marjoram or oregano (can use some of each) or dried rosemary (which is what Cheryl used)
pepper to taste
1 clove garlic finely chopped (dried can be used)
1/2 C olive oil
4 eggs lightly beaten

Heat oven to 350. Grease 13”x9” pan. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Lightly whisk eggs and oil together in a small bowl and then add egg mixture to the bigger bowl. Add zucchini and onions. Mix to combine. Spread in pan and sprinkle the top with more parmesan cheese and rosemary. Bake until golden brown about 25-30 minutes. Cut into squares of any size you desire. Can be made ahead, stored in refrigerator and warmed in oven, microwave or served at room temperature.


Stephanie said...

I had a bountiful zuchinni harvest and froze alot, alot, alot so made the zuchinni squares tonight for me (as opposed to my dogs who eat a lot of veggies,ha). Very tasty. I used feta because I was just too lazy to grate the parm... I used your bisquick / flour recipe and worked just fine. Thanks for the recipe.

jean said...

I never thought to use feta. I bet that was a yummy substitute! I'll try it next time I make this. Glad to hear that the recipe worked out even with my deviations from the bisquick.