Life by Chocolate

Chocolate, white, milk, dark, in all its forms forms life. Chocolate truffles, caramels, and other confections are at the core of enjoyment. This is life by chocolate because death by chocolate is the wrong attitude.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Italian Pan Fried Chicken

Italian Fried Chicken, sauteed spinach and Bhutanese Red Rice.

This is my Italian Grandmother's recipe as seen through my eyes. When pan frying, it's very easy to crisp up the outside of the chicken long before the middle is cooked. The way my Grandmother did this recipe was to pan fry this chicken completely and very carefully. Since I didn't want to spend that much time frying chicken, I reinterpreted this chicken as a baked chicken, which is how I do it for my restaurant. I sprinkle olive oil on the chicken and bake it, turning it once to crisp both sides (or not). I bake the chicken for 30 minutes at 400F. Other than that, it's the same baked or fried. Probably more oil on the baked version.

However, since this is a Fried Chicken Throw Down, I've decided to pan fry the chicken and finish it in the oven. I sometimes do this as well during the summer. I like to pan fry the chicken turning only once, about 4-5 mins per side or until nice a brown. Then finish in the oven for 20 minutes at 400F degrees.

As a side note, normally, when making either of these great chicken dishes, baked or fried, I pound the chicken flat. This evens out the thickness of the chicken breast to allow more even cooking. For this demonstration, I didn't do that. It photographs better unpounded. Either way, this chicken is heaven. If you don't pound your chicken, make sure the center is cooked before serving. The chicken must reach an internal temperature of 160F. Why not 165F recommended by most cookbooks Because the residual heat in the chicken will carry it from 160F to 165F as you let it rest. If you follow my recipe, you'll easily reach 165F.

The important part of making this wonderful dish is to do the dredge correctly. I use a four step process. The second most important part of this recipe is that I use chicken breasts. White meat only people. This is going to be the best chicken you've ever had.

The first step is to put the chicken in a seasoned butter milk, next dredge it in flour, then put the chicken into a seasoned egg mixture and finally coat with homemade bread crumbs seasoned and mixed with dried basil, oregano and tarragon.

I added the tarragon to this recipe. I'm sure my Grandmother did not use tarragon only oregano and basil. All dried, of course.

For my seasoning, I use Chardonnay Smoked Sea salt. I get this from Savory Spice I also use ground white pepper, lots of it. I prefer white pepper because I don't like having black specks floating in my flour or bread crumbs.

For the "Italian Bread Crumbs" I prefer dried to fresh herbs. I think dried sticks to the chicken better and mixes well with the bread crumbs. Of course, I make my own bread crumbs from the bread we bake everyday.

The next step, after breading, is either to put it in the oven with the olive oil sprinkled on top, or to pan fry it. I pan fry using olive oil.

To pan fry it, heat the olive oil up to 350F, watch out that the oil doesn't start smoking, and once hot, to gently lay the chicken in. Lay the chicken down away from you so that the hot oil does not splash on you.

Cook both sides for about 4-5 minutes or until brown.

As you can see, I crowded the pan, just the way Grandma did, and the temperature dropped quite a bit. So, to compensate, I keep the flame on very high all the time. My stove has the BTUs. You may not want to crowd the pan as much as I did. The more chicken you add, the quicker the temperature drops.

I then like to cook the chicken on a rack in the oven at 400F for about 20 minutes. If you time this right, you can put the baked chicken in right before you start frying and have them both ready in 30 minutes.

For contrast, here is two of the fried pieces and some of the baked chicken.

Here are two finished plates, one is baked and one is fried. Can you tell which is which? Hint, the crispy, brown and yummy one is fried. The plate includes sauteed spinach with garlics and Bhutanese Red Rice.

Baked version. Nice and tender but visually not as exciting. Speaking of versions, I also do a gluten free version with rice flour instead of regular flour and chickpea (or a Garfava flour blend) flour instead of bread crumbs. Very tasty. I've only used the gluten free version for the baked chicken. I have not tried to pan fry it. If anyone does, please get back to me with the results. Thanks. Now, speaking of gluten...

And finally, the garlic bread I made to go with this. This bread is very easy. Here's the short version of the recipe. Mix together and kneed for 8 minutes the following. This is a very truncated recipe. Normally all my bread recipes etc. are by weight but I translated this for the home cook.

2 1/2 T yeast
2 t sea salt
1 T sugar
5 cups flower
1 1/2 cup hot water
2 T olive oil.
1/4 cup or to taste minced garlic

Let rise for 1 hour and then put into a two loaf baking form to rise again for 1/2 hour. Bake at 400F for 1/2 hour to 3/4 hour or until the internal temp is 205F. Notice that everything in this meal is baked at 400F? That makes it much easier. This was by design for people who don't have multiple ovens.

When baking this bread, I use steam. I put a cake pan in the over and then about 1 cup of water 5 minutes before I put in the bread.

I served Key Lime Pie for dessert with a strawberry sauce. Perfect.

Please see the following people who are participating in the ThrowDown:

Mark LaPolla, New York
Twitter ID: @LifeByChocolate

SMS Bradley, Pacific Northwest
Twitter ID: @LunaCafe

Gluten Free Sanctuary
Leslie McLinden, Arkansas
Twitter ID: @lesliemac59

Fresh Eyes
Jan Richards, California
Twitter ID: @MrsRoadshow

Grandma’s Gluten-Free Baking N Cooking
Joyce Paige, Kansas
Twitter: @SilknPearls or @GFGrandmaBNC

The Sensitive Pantry
Nancy Kohler, New Jersey
Twitter ID: @SensitivePantry

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