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A new book, “Food IQ: 100 Questions, Answers, and Recipes to Raise Your Cooking Smarts,” contains an irresistible section by the name of “12 Favorite (Essential, Life-Changing) Things to Cook Forever.”
It is no accident that the book includes its Chicken Parmesan recipe in this chapter.
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As the authors, Daniel Holtzman and Matthew Rodbard point out, “Was it difficult” to “narrow these down to a dozen? Of course.”
Yet after reading these recipes, any home cook will “have a better understanding” of “foundational dishes” that are worth making again and again (and again!).
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The book points out that the authors, who are both New Yorkers, “define a [chicken] cutlet as a thinly sliced and pounded piece of meat, usually chicken or veal (but sometimes pork), that has been breaded and fried.”
“To start, pound the chicken thin. You’ll need to shallow fry the chicken in good olive oil.”
With that background, wait no more for the details behind a memorable recipe (plus the red sauce below) — and how to make this meal for family and friends.
Now, read an excerpt from “Food IQ,” featured here with special permission.
Chicken Parmesan, from the book ‘Food IQ’
Chicken Parmesan was Daniel’s father, John Holtzman’s, favorite meal. And Chicken Parmesan is Daniel’s favorite meal.
Daniel prides himself on making what he believes to be the best Chicken Parmesan around, and the key is nailing all of the important ratios. Too little sauce, and your dish will be too dry; too much cheese, and it’s a gooey mess (though that’s a far better cry than too little cheese).
To start, pound the chicken thin. You’ll need to shallow fry the chicken in good olive oil.
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Then you need to bake the fried chicken cutlets with the sauce — which allows the breading to absorb the flavor of the tomatoes. It’s not enough to simply ladle tomato sauce over your cutlet and melt some cheese on top, contrary to what many red sauce joints tend to do.
Have a little patience, and you will eat like a king — like Daniel and his father, John.
Two (5-ounce) Classic Chicken Cutlets [a recipe featured elsewhere within “Food IQ”]
1 ½ cups Forty-Minute Red Sauce [recipe below!]
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced ¼ inch thick
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place the chicken cutlets in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cover them with the tomato sauce, then arrange the mozzarella slices over them.
3. Bake until the sauce is bubbling hot and the cheese begins to brown, about 20 minutes.
4. Let rest for 10 minutes, then scatter the Parmesan over the top before serving.
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And now, as a bonus, the Red Sauce recipe from ‘Food IQ’
Here’s the thing about red sauce. If you start with high-quality tomatoes, it’s extremely easy to make a delicious utility sauce with only five ingredients plus salt.
Whether you’re making pizza, dipping calamari, building a lasagna, or topping Chicken Parmesan, this sauce will be the answer.
Save this recipe and share it with friends … The trick is to slowly confit the garlic in the oil before adding the tomatoes. That step will add a few extra minutes, but the sauce will always be flavored with raw garlic otherwise.
One head garlic, clovers separated and peeled, then smashed
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of red chile flakes
2 (28-ounce) cans good-quality whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
6 fresh basil leaves
1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, slowly heat the garlic and oil over medium-low heat. Cook slowly, being very careful not to brown the garlic, until the smashed cloves are soft and pungent, about 8 minutes. You should watch the garlic for the entire duration, as it can burn quickly. Toss in the chile flakes at the very end.
2. Add the tomatoes and 2 teaspoons salt, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently and mashing the tomatoes to break them up as they cook, until one-fourth of the liquid has evaporated, and the sauce begins to thicken, the color darkens and the oil begins to float and separate, about 30 minutes.
3. Stir in the basil and adjust the seasoning with salt as needed. Use immediately, or let cool and then store until needed. The sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
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From the book “Food IQ” by Daniel Holzman and Matt Rodbard. Copyright © 2022 by Daniel Holzman and Matt Rodbard. Published by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.