Sun 9 Jan 2011
Every family certainly has a recipe, or a flock of recipes, that trickle down to the children and are brought forward through generations. Maybe it’s Mum’s cheese buns, Uncle Mark’s latkes, Baba’s fried chicken, et cetera, but all families seem to have at least one. I’d wager that all families have specialties that become tradition.
Sometimes, though, these recipes are elusive. They don’t take to being written down with ease. Measurements can’t be given in precise increments, “And then you add some potatoes…” Or this family recipe needs to be made with some especially specific ingredient to be right, “My pickles tasted better when we still lived on the farm. The water is different here.”
What I’m trying to get at here, is that as a culinarily inclined individual, I’d like to be able to recreate some of the phenomenal food I grew up with, recipes that stand out in my family. It is so frustrating when I just can’t make it the way that George or Auntie Louise does. You go back to clarify recipes and follow them to the tee (which is hard for an improviser like myself) and still the way you remember it, the dish you’ve eaten dozens of times just isn’t the same as the result.
Case in point is my Mum’s Parmesan chicken. She clipped the recipe out of a magazine sometime in my childhood. I’ve copied it down from that recipe clipping with her annotations. Her Parmesan chicken is so darn good. Still, every time I try to make it something is off. It still tastes good, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t taste like hers.
What is especially weird in this case is that my mum’s approach to cooking is very scientific and methodical. Everything gets measured and you don’t mess around with a recipe that isn’t broken. We’re so opposite in the kitchen it’s a little bit ridiculous. Therefore, logic would suggest that if I have the recipe that she follows, and follow the recipe carefully, we should get the same result. Logic fails in this case.
This last time that I made it, it came close. I brought it to a potluck, and everybody enjoyed. Normally, we do these for dinner as full chicken breasts, but I cut them into strips because there is so much food to taste at potlucks. My mum’s Parmesan chicken is so moist and savory and flavorful and so I’m going to give her recipe to you. Maybe if you make it you will get to experience Parmesan chicken the way she makes it, and if it comes out the way it came out for me, that will work too.
(adapted by my mum from a long ago recipe clipping)Ingredients
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 Cup breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
6 chicken breasts
2 Tbsp butter, melted
- Combine Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, oregano, parsley, paprika, lemon pepper and pepper in a shallow dish. This will be the coating for the chicken.
- Dip the chicken breasts, one at a time in the melted butter. This ensures the chicken will stay moist and delectable, and helps the coating stick.
- Dredge the chicken in the coating, patting it on so that it is well coated.
- Place chicken pieces on a oven safe tray, and cook at 400° F until the juices of the chicken run clear and everything is cooked to a golden splendor (~40 minutes), flipping the pieces for even browning half way through.
This chicken will always make me think of my mum, and the kitchen I spent most of my life growing up in. We did some serious mother daughter bonding in there, cooking and singing along with the radio, dancing up a storm. I wish this recipe would let me replicate the way she makes it.
I love you mum.