Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chicken Parmigiana

Chicken Parmigiana 
serves 8
Chicken  parmigiana is less expensive version of veal cutlets parmigiana and an Italian restaurant staple.  My version spices it up a little by adding the heat of red pepper flakes to traditional marinara sauce.  Notice this version is not layered as most homemade versions but is made restaurant style (single scallopini topped with sauce, parmesan, and Provolone rather than mozzarella).
                                                                              Prep time:   15 minutes
                                                                              Cook time:   37 minutes
                                                                              Total time:   52 minutes

spicy tomato sauce:

2 14.5 ounce cans of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil\
2 heaping tablespoons dehydrated onions
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper

the scallopini:

8  boneless, skinless chicken breasts, scaloppini-ed (pounded to  1⁄4" thickness)
1⁄2 cup flour
4 eggs, beaten
1 1⁄2 cups Italian dried bread crumbs
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 slices provolone cheese (about 6 ounce), more depending on the size of the chicken scallopini
3⁄4 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper,  to taste


spicy tomato sauce:

1.  In a large sauce pan over medium heat, bring the olive oil to the ripple state, add  the dehydrated onions, the basil, the oregano, the crushed red pepper flakes*, and the granulated garlic  and cook, stirring constantly, until the  herbs are fragrant, about 2 minutes. 
2.  Reduce the heat to low and add the crushed tomatoes/tomato sauce, stirring constantly until the tomatoes  combine with the herbs and begins to caramelizes, about 3 minutes.  Raise the heat and bring to a simmer.  Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt, black pepper, and additional red pepper.
3.  Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes over low heat.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  
* if you're not sure of how spicy you like your sauce start with ¼  teaspoon of red pepper flakes and adjust seasoning during cooking.

Pre-heat the broiler of an  oven to broil placing the oven rack 10" from the heating element.

create the scallopini:

1.  Working with 1 breast at a time place the breast in a 1 gallon re-sealable  plastic bag and pound the breast into  a ¼ to ½ -inch thick scallopini. 
2.  Season the pounded scallopini lightly with salt and pepper.

breading and frying the scallopini:

1.  Build a breading station by placing flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes and working with one scaloppini at a time, dredge it in the flour, the eggs, and the bread crumbs and transfer the  breaded scallopini to a dish.
2.  In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Fry the breaded scallopini,  2 at a time,  turning once with tongs, until golden brown, about 3 minutes; wiping out the frying  pan and adding fresh oil  between.  Either transfer scallopini to large baking platter or to individual, oven proof plates.

bake the scallopini:

1.  Once all the scallopini have been fried and plated, top each scallopini with 1⁄3 cup of the marinara sauce, sprinkle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of parmesan, and one or more  slices of cheese. 
2.  Place the plated and topped scallopini under the broiler until  the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 5 minutes.


 Dress each plate with some of the parsley and serve immediately accompanied by sauce pasta and any remaining spicy tomato sauce.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Pizza

Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Pizza
Makes 2 12-inch pizzas
Many restaurants offer a variety of pizzas including pizzas topped with roasted red peppers.  My interpretation of this classically topped pizza is unique because the roasted red peppers aren't just incorporated in the sauce, they are the sauce.
                                                                    Pizza dough:  3 hours
                                                                    Roasted red peppers: 1 hour
                                                                    Roasted red pepper sauce: 20 minutes
                                                                    Pizza bake time: 12 minutes per pizza
                                                                    Total time: 3 hours 24 minutes


authentic pizza dough:

2½ cups Bread Flour, plus additional for work surface
1 cup Warm (105° F) Water
1 Envelope Active Dry Yeast
¼ cup Honey
¼ cup Extra-virgin Olive Oil
4 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt

roasted red peppers:

5-6 large red bell peppers
Extra virgin olive oil

1 large paper bag

roasted red pepper sauce*:

1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup sliced shallots
roasted red pepper (see recipe)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups chicken broth
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes


1 yellow onion, peeled, ¼-inch diced
1 cup roasted red pepper sauce (see recipe)
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano  cheese, to taste
8 ounces sweet or hot Italian sausage, casing removed and fried until crumbly  (still a little pink) 


authentic pizza dough: 

1. In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine the water and honey stir to combine and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes. If the yeast doesn't "proof" (get "foamy") pour it out and start again it is important to have a live yeast mixture.

2. Meanwhile place the flour and the salt into a sifter and sift it into the medium bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the olive oil and the "proofed" yeast mixture. Turn the mixer, fitted with dough hooks, to knead and turn on. Continue kneading (mixing) until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball around the dough hooks (scrap the sides of the bowl to move flour into the path of the hooks as needed).

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky (add flour gradually as needed to reach the slightly tacky state), 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap cloth and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

5. After the dough has doubled in size, remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a 12-inch log. Divide the log in half and form each half into equally sized dough balls. Lightly oil a 2 large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place each dough ball into its own bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover each bowl with plastic and set in a warm, draft-free place until the nearly double in size again, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

While the dough is proofing, create the sauce and cook the sausage.

roasted red peppers:

1. Either (a) position the top rack of your oven as close to the broiler element as possible and turn on the broiler or (b) fire up your charcoal(or gas) grill or (c) turn the gas stove top element of your stove on.

2. Coat each pepper with olive oil.

3. If you’re using (a) the stove broiler method, place the coated peppers on a rimmed cookie sheet on the top rack and cook, turning as necessary, the peppers until they are well charred on all sides, remove them to a paper bag, fold the top of the bag over several times to seal the bag and set the bag aside for several minutes to allow the peppers to sweat or (b) if you are using the grill method, place the coated peppers on the grill and cook, turning as necessary, the peppers until they are well charred on all sides. After the peppers are well charred on all side, remove them to a paper bag, fold the top of the bag over several times to seal the bag and set the bag aside for several minutes to allow the peppers to sweat or (c)if you are using the stove top method, skewer the coated peppers (one at a time) on a long shafted fork and cook over the gas stove top element, rotating as necessary, until the pepper is well charred on all sides. As each pepper is finished charring, remove it from the fork and transfer to a paper bag, fold the top of the bag over several times to seal the bag. Repeat this process until all the peppers have been charred and are in the paper bag at this point, set the bag aside for several minutes to allow the peppers to sweat.

4. After the peppers have had several minutes to cool and sweat remove them, one by one, from the bag and remove and discarded the charred skin, the seeds and inner rib and cut the roasted peppers into strips and arrange them on a serving platter.

5. After all the peppers have been transferred to the serving platter pour marinate or dressing of your choice over the peppers and set aside to marinate or serve as is or use as required in your recipe.

roasted red pepper sauce:

1. Sauté shallots in the olive oil in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium-high heat until translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the roasted red peppers, stir in the sugar and sauté for about 2 minutes.

3. Add the chicken broth and simmer 5 minutes. Allow the broth and roasted red pepper mixture to cool slightly to avoid an unpleasant blender incident. When it has cooled and working in batches, puree the broth, red pepper, and shallots in the container of a blender until a smooth, creamy sauce is formed (if the sauce is too thick for your tastes, thin it by adding additional warm broth). Correct seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

construction and baking:

1. Place an appropriately sized pizza stone on the middle shelf of your oven and pre-heat the oven to 450° F.

2. Remove the risen dough ball from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured work surface , flatten it into a thick disk and with your fingertips and palms, working from the center of the disk out to the edges, press it into a thin disk of dough approximately 10 to 12-inch round and about 1/8 inch thick (if necessary use a rolling pin to achieve the 1/8-inch thickness [don’t worry if the pizza isn’t perfectly round . . . that’s called “rustica” and it’s the way “real” Italian pizza looks in Italy]). If you're really brave you can try the spin and toss method of forming the pie (this dough is perfect for it) just remember to use your knuckles when spinning and tossing . . . fingertips can cause holes). Sprinkle flour over the surface of this thin disk (this will become the bottom of the pie when you place the pizza base on the peel in the next instruction).

3. Distribute some corn meal over the surface of a pizza peel (this will act as “ball bearings” and allow the dough rounds to move easily over the surface of the peel) and transfer the formed pizza base onto the peel insuring that the lightly floured side is on the bottom. Lightly spread ½ cup of the roasted red pepper sauce evenly over pizza base keeping a ½ to 1-inch border of the base uncoated to form a crust; sprinkle about 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano and ½ the grated mozzarella evenly over the sauce (maintaining the uncoated border). Evenly distribute ½ the diced onion and ½ the cooked sausage over the sauce and cheeses and again maintaining the uncoated boarder .

4. Finally sprinkle a little extra-virgin olive oil over the surface.

5. Gently shake the peel to insure the pizza moves freely (if it doesn’t gently lift the edges of the pizza and distribute additional corn meal until it does), using the peel slide the pizza onto the stone and bake the pizza until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 12 minute in a 450°F oven. Remove from the oven, slice into 8 wedge shaped slices and serve.

6. Repeat with the remaining dough, toppings, and cheeses.

*roasted red pepper sauce recipe makes 4 cups of sauce, any leftover sauce can be jarred and refrigerated for future use as a pasta sauce or the base of roasted red pepper soup

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