As a young child I had absolutely no patience for picky eaters. I would watch disdainfully as kids from other families pushed food around their plates until they were excused from the table. At school I made sure to keep my coveted Lunchables away from the roving eyes of the picky eaters at the 3rd grade lunch table. And I always made sure to finish my meals, so as never to be confused with the “other” kids. You can imagine my embarrassment then, when my younger sister Madeline began shunning the dinners my mom would put in front of her. At first it was just salad. She would only eat it with French dressing, then she would only eat salad if she could dip the romaine leaves into the dressing. I watched in horror as she descended further down the picky eater slope, eventually eating only buttered noodles and McDonalds chicken nuggets. I thought all hope was lost until a birthday dinner at Olive Garden one night. She was presented with a huge plate of Chicken Parmesan. Fate intervened and Maddie added a new dinner to her repertoire. Her love for this dinner gradually expanded into more foods and our relationship -and my third grade reputation were saved.
Stirring the Pot was the first Tyler Florence cookbook I bought and I love his style. The first chapter is devoted to de-cluttering and making the most of your kitchen space. It teaches you how to utilize your freezer, fridge, and pantry. He also shows you the knives and pans to buy at three different price points.
The recipes in this book are simple and taste great. He breaks the second chapter into 8 sections: Roast, Sauté, Braise, Fry, Grill, Steam, Bake, and Fresh and Raw. He teaches you the basics of these techniques while providing you with delicious recipes. I love the acorn squash stuffed with cheese tortellini’s, his perfect roast chicken (covered with 2 sticks of butter!), and of course the Chicken Parmesan. This version is sautéed in a pan first and then placed in a hot oven to finish. The result is a crunchy, cheesy masterpiece that everyone will love no matter how picky they are.
RTK note: To get a few more veggies into this dinner. I’ll sometimes replace the noodles with spaghetti squash. Also if I’m feeling especially lazy, instead of making the sauce below I’ll use previously made sauce from my freezer or a good jar of pasta sauce.
Recipe from Stirring The Pot by Tyler Florence
(Makes 4 servings)
- 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
Coat a saute 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 (nothing splashes like 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, cover, and keep warm.
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.