My husband has been out of town, so I invited 2 ladies that I know over for dinner, and decided to make chicken parmigiana. Most of the time when I make chicken parm, I'll take some shortcut, whether it be prebreaded chicken or bottled sauce, but this time I decided that I wanted to go all the way. I wanted to make the sauce and the chicken myself. I've been reading a lot lately about the benefits of brining poultry before cooking, the two biggies were that it speeds up cooking time and it almost guarantees (if you don't overcook it) a moist piece of meat. Here's what I did:
1 gallon cold water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
Healthy sprinkling of Italian seasoning (I like the mixture of basil, oregano, thyme and margoram)
I boiled half a gallon of cold water, the salt, sugar, and Italian seasoning. I let it cool for a little while then added the other half gallon. I poured some of the brine in a ziploc baggie with the 4 chicken breasts I was going to use for the parm and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
While the brine was doing it's job, I prepared some roasted garlic for the sauce. My base sauce recipe (what I go off of and add to it as I see fit) calls for 2 cloves of garlic, but I think that's really weak! I'd been wanting to roast garlic for awhile, and now that I've done it, I'm definitely doing it more often (after I buy more garlic!) It takes the bite out of the garlic and leaves a deep comforting flavor. Eating a garlic clove would be disgusting, but if it's roasted, you wouldn't have a problem with it!
I took about 3/4 of a head of garlic, cut the bottoms off, and separated it into individual cloves. Then I put in it a pocket of tin foil, drizzled olive oil on it, and closed up the tin foil pocket. I roasted it at 250 degrees for an hour, and when it was done the roasted garlic came out of the paper skin easily.
So, now it's time for the sauce! 2 turns of a saucepan of olive oil, add a few cloves of chopped garlic and 1/2 a yellow onion. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes, don't let it brown! Add 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, the roasted garlic, and then I like to blend it so I don't have to worry about picky eaters getting mad that I didn't cut the onions smaller (while my eyes are burning and tears are streaming down my face... onion cutting isn't something I like to do!) I then drain a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes (I like the fire roasted ones) and add it to the sauce for texture. Add as much basil as you like (tear it or cut it, I like to cut it into strips myself), salt and pepper.
Now the chicken!
Take your chicken out of the brine and pat it dry. Beat 2 large egg whites, and coat the chicken breasts with the egg whites, then coat in a mixture of 1 cup of bread crumbs (I used panko) and 2 tbsp of Italian seasoning. A little olive oil and a screaming hot pan, 4 minutes on each side. While the chicken is cooking, spray your baking pan with some cooking spray (or coat with oil) and put a little sauce along the bottom. Place chicken in the dish and pour remaining sauce evenly over the chicken. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake until bubbly, about 25 minutes.
I served mine with garlic bread and spaghetti noodles. My 2 year old was shoving it into her mouth while asking if she could have some of mine. My 5 year old was scarfing it down. Sometimes chicken parm comes out with dry chicken, but the brine really helps.
Panko bread crumbs
Shredded mozzarella cheese
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
14 oz can diced tomatoes
Seriously though, go to the link above (brine's job), there's a lot of good information on brining.