03 February 2011

shhhhiiiccccken romano.

(excuse the phone photo.... I was too done to get the real camera out).

So, when my mother was a newlywed, my father saw this recipe somewhere. Maybe southern living magazine, but I think it was in the newspaper. Maybe in Durham, N.C., where Daddy went to law school. But, I don't know. They do. I don't. Oh well.

And Mama cooked it right up. Well, she fiddled a bit, but basically she cooked it right up.

And, like God on the sixth or seventh day, or whenever he said it, Mama and Daddy looked at the creation and saw that it was good.

And growing up, I agreed. And then I got married, and Paul agreed as well.

This recipe stays in our rotation, because:

  • It's fancy enough for company.

(though I largely object to that classification - one of the best company-foods is makeyourown paninis served with homemade soup...which would traditionally have not been considered company fare..., but the point is - Chicken Romano, an ironic name as you'll see, is a food fit for kings. Or at least anyone you'd have in your house)

  • It's fairly simple. The hardest part is to make sure the chicken is free of those little tendons that you are wont to bite into and gag....
  • It is made of all real food
  • It is fairly good for you. Not revolutionary or anything, but certainly should be guiltless, unless you're currently under special dietary restrictions.
  • I think that it's hard to make white meat, skinless chicken taste good, and this does it.
So, to the recipe, which I present unadulterated: (Well, my mother actually adulterated the fire out of it originally, but I haven't done anything further, though my measurements are not always precise).

You need:

1-2 lbs chicken - I use boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders.
Some flour - 2 cups ish
2 tsps salt
2 tsps pepper
4 T or so of butter

1 large onion, chopped (though, if you're onion squeamish, first of all, get a life, and second of all, cut the onion in half, or even into a fourth... i'd think you do want some, though for flavoring the sauce)
Perhaps a glug of olive oil
1 64 oz can tomato juice
3 T sugar
6 Generous Tablespoons parmesan cheese

(just get the stuff in the container.... You can get it that's 100% cheese now, and the texture just makes the sauce better than if you grate your own. I've tried. It's now the only thing I use containerparmesan for, but, well, I try to cook what tastes good, not just what's trendy... =) )

1 1/2 tsps garlic salt
1 1/2 tsps oregano
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
2 bay leaves
1 T parsley
1 T vinegar

1 lb pasta of your choice - see note below.

Once you have what you need, get out a gallon size baggie. Throw your flour, salt and pepper in there. Then put your cut-up chicken in there. Seal it. Hand it to the nearest child, and ask them to shake shake shake. (This is the realfood version of shake and bake and i helped....).

In a large pot (The widest one you have that is still deep enough to hold sauce.... an extra deep skillet is perfect), melt about 4 T butter. Once it is good and hot, put the chicken in, one piece at a time, shaking off excess flour. If your pot is not wide enough, you'll have to do it in two batches, but regardless, brown chicken on each side for about 4 - 5 minutes on Medium Heat.

Remove chicken to plate. Swat away greedy hands. Not just because you're selfish, but because it's probably not entirely cooked. Salmonella is bad, still, apparently.

Add to pot a little more butter or a glug of olive oil to prevent onion from sticking. Add onion and scrape up the chicken goodness left behind.

Saute onion until it's, you know, good and sauteed.

Add next 9 ingredients. It sounds like a lot of sugar, but the sauce is not sweet at all. You need that sugar to counteract the straight, acidic tomato juice. It's why V8 is V8, not just Tomato juice...

Make sure you scrape the browned chicken, onion bits off of the bottom. It gives the sauce depth. (Something I swore I'd never say concerning food...depth.... oh well, never say never).

Add your chicken back to the pan and simmer for 30 or so minutes on Medium Low Heat.

Now, to the pasta. My mother thinks Angel Hair Pasta is pretty much the only pasta worth its space in her pantry. Well, maybe a macaroni noodle or two. I, however, have lost this prejudice (after much work....), and like a host of pastas. I usually do serve this over angel hair, but have tried other things - traditional spaghetti, and last night we did it with penne. We like it with everything so far....
Regardless, this is enough sauce for 16 ounces of cooked pasta. Why some pastas come in 12 ounce containers and others in 16 ounce containers befuddles me. I feel like George Banks ripping open hotdogbun bags...

So, boil up some pasta, spoon sauce and chicken on top, serve with green salad and bread and feast away.

Makes 6-8 adult servings.

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