I keep posting all of these photos of Thailand and it seems like our vacation that only ended a couple of weeks ago is ages and ages away. The weather doesn’t help. We’ve had more snow than the entire time I’ve lived in New York, or at least it looks that way to me. The cycle begins again today. After the snow, comes the slush, but all of the rain today just means that the sidewalks have turned into serious danger zones. My boots are not nearly as waterproof as I had originally thought that they were, and my soggy socks remind me of that with every step. Each inch of ground is covered in slippery melting snow and thanks to the rain, ice. It just straight up sucks. Walking takes twice as long because everyone has to take baby steps to avoid falling on his or her respective asses. Funny thing about today, though: the subway was nearly empty during my commute. I guess some people smarter than I decided to work from home today.
Anyway, back to happier things. Our fourth day in Thailand started out with a few beers and some hanging out on the beach with my brothers. I guess they are not old enough to appreciate how wonderful it is to sit and do nothing, though, so around noon, my youngest brother suggested that we go for a walk along a path near the water that he had taken with my parents earlier in the day, after breakfast. Sure, why not? Sounds fun. Wrong! My brother neglected to mention that this fun little path would be highly effected by high tide, which happened to be at its peak just as we left for our little adventure. Of course, I, being adverse to nature and a natural complainer, bitched and moaned almost the entire way. To my credit, I was wearing sneakers and regular street clothes because nobody told me I’d be encountering waist-deep ocean water. The final straw was traversing the side of a building that was covered in moss and seaweed as the tide flowed in and out. Kramer and the genius, Wyatt, were a bit ahead of me and my more benevolent brother, Dane, who was attempting to be encouraging as I screamed at having to touch the gross, moldy moss along the wall. After that, I let them all know that I was out of there. I climbed up the wall and walked through some random resort to get to the road, my more adventurous companions begrudgingly following behind because none of them wanted to have to say that they abandoned me when I would have inevitably tripped, fell and died. After all of that, Wyatt was rightfully annoyed by my resistance to any further “walking” in the water, so we wandered around town for some specific bank he was looking for, before it started to rain and we all decided that enough was enough – it was time to turn around. Besides the rain and exhaustion, we were starving. We ended up at a little restaurant on the side of the road that was completely empty, but it was one of my favorite meals of the trip. We inhaled short ribs with green beans, green mussels in a lime broth (amazing), chicken satay with peanut sauce, deliciously simple pad thai, curried crab, and more things that I’m forgetting. Alongside a cold beer, it almost made everyone forget about how I basically hadn’t shut up for the past two or three hours. Thanks for putting up with me, guys.
Upon our return from Thailand, I just was really craving foods that you can’t get over there. Obviously pizza was one of our first things to order when we got home, but the next day, I felt like getting back in the kitchen and making something simple and homey. I had chicken and canned tomatoes, so after running over to the bodega for some cheese, I was ready to make this classic chicken parmesan. Let’s be real, though – Kramer and I were both saying “chicky chicky parm parm” all day in the kitchen while I was making it. Thanks, Tom Haverford. Chicken parmesan should be straight forward, so that’s what I did. There aren’t any twists to be found here. Just breaded chicken cutlets, flavorful marinara sauce, and plenty of mozzarella and parmesan cheese to top it all off. Kramer and I ate this with some plain old spaghetti while catching up on some TV shows and sharing a bottle of red wine. It was the perfect old school red sauce meal that we needed to get back to reality while still enjoyed the last few hours of our time away from the world we live and work in.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, grated
- 4 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano flakes
- ½ teaspoon dried basil flakes
- ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, depending on your tastes – I used about ½ teaspoon)
- the rind of your Parmesan cheese (optional)
- 3-4 large chicken breasts, sliced in half and/or pounded out, if needed
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
- 1½ cups Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- zest of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¾ pound (12 ounces) mozzarella cheese, sliced
- chives or fresh basil (or both), for garnish
- First, make your marinara sauce. Use a box grater to grate your onion into your pot or pan. Add in the olive oil, turn cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Add in the grated garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add in the crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, sugar, red pepper flakes and your Parmesan cheese rind (this adds some salt and some cheesy flavor – I just grate my cheese ahead of time, then drop the remaining rind into the sauce. You can freeze used up Parmesan rinds to use for this purpose later on, too). Bring to a light boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or so. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Now, prepare your chicken. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. I used 3 large chicken breasts, which I sliced lengthwise in half to make 6 cutlets. You can do this if your chicken breasts are thick, or you can place them between two sheets of parchment or plastic wrap and pound them out with a rolling pin. You just don’t want your meat to be so thick that it won’t cook through.
- In one shallow pan, combine your breadcrumbs, ½ cup of Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper and lemon zest. In another shallow pan, whisk together your two eggs. Heat your ¼ cup of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy bottomed pan, then dip your cutlets in the egg, followed by dredging them in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing down to get the breadcrumbs and cheese to stick. Place the chicken in your pan, and cook on each side, until golden (about 3-4 minutes per side).
- When the chicken is ready, spoon about 1 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch casserole dish (enough to cover the bottom). Arrange the cooked chicken in the dish, then top with the remaining marinara sauce. Add the sliced mozzarella cheese on top of each chicken cutlet, then sprinkle with 1 cup of Parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or so, until the mozzarella and Parmesan are fully melted and bubbling. Sprinkle with sliced basil or chives and serve with salad or on top of pasta.