Monday, August 12, 2013

Culinary Adventures: Chicken Parmesan

Last Wednesday was Mr. Geek's 26th birthday, so I asked him what he wanted for a birthday dinner.  His favorite meal is shepherd's pie, so that's normally my go-to "special meal" for him, but that's more of a hearty, winter time dish, so I was secretly glad when he asked for chicken parmesan instead.  The pressure was on, however, because whenever Mr. Geek wants to pull out all the stops and make dinner for me, this is what he makes.  I did a little hunting and found a rather unique take on chicken parmesan- unique because it was insanely quick and easy, but also because it's not breaded and fried!

Confession time: this year I was absolutely horrible in the birthday department, even though this dinner turned out delicious (he had seconds!  Technically thirds...)  I didn't have a chance to go grocery shopping before his actual birthday, so we didn't eat this on Wednesday- we ordered Chinese instead.  (I'm a terrible wife.)  The gift I bought for him didn't show up until Thursday, so he couldn't open it with the others.  (Although that wasn't entirely my fault- but I guess I could've ponied up for faster shipping...)  I promised him we'd have the chicken parm on Friday night, and though I did have the ingredients by then, Friday was a long day of being pregnant, so when I sat down on the sofa to quickly check my email and pull up the recipe, I ended up...falling asleep.  At 6:00.  On a Friday.  When I was supposed to be making a birthday dinner.  SUNDAY.  We could make it on Sunday.  Yes.  Except, generally, when you're making someone a birthday dinner, you don't put them to work alongside you at the stove.  (I didn't technically make him join in though.  I just asked him if he wanted to get out some aggression with the meat tenderizer mallet and then he ended up not leaving the kitchen!)

But you know what?  We really love cooking together, and the dish turned out fantastic, so I'd say, overall, it was a success.

Chicken Parmesan
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

-3 Tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp rosemary (fresh is always best, but dried herbs work just as well here)
-1 tsp thyme
-1 tsp parsley
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-1 1/2 C tomato sauce (homemade would be awesome, but we used a jarred sauce to save time)
-1/2 C shredded mozzarella
-1/2 C grated parmesan
-2 Tbsp unsalted butter cut into chunks

-While your oven is preheating to 500F, wrap the chicken breasts in plastic wrap and pound them flat with a tenderizer mallet.  (If you want your husband to help with the cooking process, this is a good place to bring him in.)  Cut each flattened piece in half (or thirds, depending on how large it is- you want each piece to be about the size of the palm of your hand).  Mix the herbs, salt, and pepper with the oil in a bowl, then brush it on both sides of each slice of chicken.

-In a large, heavy pan (like a cast iron skillet) over high heat, cook the chicken, about 2 minutes per side.  You're going to finish the cooking in the oven, but you do want to get rid of as much pink as you can.  Remove the pan from the heat until your oven is ready to go.

-Pour the tomato sauce around the chicken, then cover each piece with the mozzarella, parmesan, and a bit of butter.  Pop the pan in the oven for 3-5 minutes, just until the cheese is melted and the chicken is cooked through.

-While your husband still has 2 oven mitts on, he may start bouncing around like a boxer, saying, "Put 'em up, put 'em up."  If he does, be sure to snap a picture.

-Here's what it looks like when it comes out of the oven- bubbly and cheezy and delicious. 

-Serve over pasta- we went with whole wheat linguine.  Sprinkle on some extra parmesan cheese if the Spirit moves you.

What's your favorite thing to do for your significant other on their birthday?

Much love,
The Geeks

*all photos personal*


  1. Looks delicious!! I take my husband out for dinner...I don't like to cook and he likes to go out so win/win for both of us!


    1. We do plenty of going out, too, so I'm glad Mr Geek got some restaurant gift cards for his birthday (omnomnom Olive Garden...)