Chicken is, and always has been, a popular nutritious dish. There are as many ways to prepare a delicious chicken dinner as there are countries with their different recipes and tastes.
Today I share with you a chicken recipe that my mom used to make for us when we were little. She smiles down at us from heaven today knowing that she did a good job. None of us turned out to be criminals and none of us got mixed up with the mob. Also, I always assure worried tourists who go to Palermo that mafiosi no longer carry machine guns. They carry briefcases full of hundred dollar bills and buy what they want instead of killing people for it.
Where was it? Oh yes, my mom’s chicken recipe: chicken with mozzarella.
Okay, first pick some boneless, skinless chicken breasts. If you have large dining rooms, you might consider one and a half per person, or maybe even two, and unless you have your own little garden at home, you should pick some fresh basil leaves. (Hey, if it doesn’t have basil, it’s not Italian. What can I say?) And last but not least, a small block of mozzarella cheese. You could get the slices, but that’s not as good as I’m going to show you.
Now, on a clean cutting board, lay out the chicken breasts, smooth side up, and cut several horizontal slits across the top, about a half-inch deep.
Set that oven to about 400º.
You can line a pan with aluminum foil, if not, at least spray it with non-stick spray. Arrange the chicken breasts and insert a basil leaf into each open cut, half a slice of fresh tomato (Roma is great, but any tomato will do). Add a thick slice of mozzarella cheese. And as a final touch, sprinkle a thin slice of fresh garlic.
Now gently brush or drizzle a thin layer of olive oil over the chicken. Some people like what they call Italian seasoning, but I prefer just salt, pepper, a little sugar, and maybe a dash of oregano.
Marsala (pretty much the national drink of Sicily!) goes great with this, but don’t drink the whole bottle because you can burn your chicken.
After about twenty minutes, you should check the chicken. I use one of those little metal skewers that you test cakes with. If it comes out clean, the chicken is done. If not, at that point you can simply turn off the oven and let the chicken sit inside for another ten to fifteen minutes.
While this is going on, you can boil any choice of pasta: spaghetti, rigatoni, mostaccioli, or maybe good elbow macaroni. The kids love that and I bet dad loves it too.
For a nice sauce, toss a handful of lightly minced garlic into a pan with olive oil and, while it’s getting really hot, toss in some sliced onion, celery, and green peppers. Once it looks fairly done, add a little broth or, if that’s not available, use a little beef or chicken broth or tomato powder with a cup of water per teaspoon. Not too much. Just what you think you’ll need for the family.
Once it’s boiled for a few minutes, strain, add a can of tomato paste and maybe a can of diced tomatoes and boil again for a few minutes.
Served with a green salad and freshly grated Parmesan cheese at the table, you’ll have a great dinner and the family will think you really love them, even if it’s just a routine cook.
1. Chicken Tan
One or 1-1/2 boneless skinless chicken breasts per person
One pound of Mozzarella cheese
Two/three fresh Roma tomatoes
Three/four cloves of fresh garlic
A quarter pound of fresh basil leaves
Pasta of choice according to package directions for amounts
A pint of broth (canned broth, beef, chicken, or tomato is fine).
Bring to a boil and add:
finely chopped fresh basil (using leftover chicken stuffing
a small can of tomato paste
a can of diced tomatoes
The sauce should be simmered until it thickens a bit.