Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Biba's Chicken

When I was a young mother I was very into doing everything from scratch.  I grew a huge vegetable garden, did lots of canning, baked my own bread, and made my own pasta.

I got into making pasta because of a TV show I watched featuring Biba Caggianno.  She used to make the most amazing Italian dishes from scratch and I was facinated each time I watched her.  I even went out and got one of those funny pasta machines.

I went through a period of time when I cooked all the recipes in her cookbook and made all the pasta.  My family used to rib me about it and whenever I made anything new it was always "Is this Biba's?"

One of the best recipes I tried was this one which soon became a family favourite known as Biba's chicken.   It's not 100% the original recipe (I think she made it with veal) but it works great with chicken. It's - like all my favourite recipes - quick and easy to do but amazingly delicious.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

from Trattoria Cooking: More than 200 authentic recipes from Italy's family-style restaurants

Biba's Chicken 
(or otherwise known as Cotolette di Vitello alla Bolognese - cutlets with Prosciutto Parmigiano and Marsala)

Ingredients :

-  2 large eggs
-  salt
-  1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (I dry out Paleo bread for this)
-  about 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
-  8 - 1/4 inch thick chicken cutlets  (pound regular breasts to flatten)
-  3 tablespoons unsalted butter
-  2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-  1/2 cup dry Marsala (I've used Sherry or Port too when I didn't have Marsala wine and it was always delicious)
-  1/2 cup chicken broth
-  1 tablespoon tomato paste
-  1/4 cup heavy cream
-  8 thin slices prosciutto

Directions :

-  Lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt in a medium bowl.  
-  Mix the bread crumbs with 1/4 cup Parmigiano.
-  Dip each chicken slice into the beaten eggs then into the bread crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the meat.
-  Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and the oil together in a large skillet over medium heat.  When hot cook the cutlets until golden, then turn and cook the other side.  Transfer the cutlets to paper towels and pat dry to remove any excess fat.
-  Discard the rest of the fat from the skillet.  Place over medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter.  As soon as it's melted, add the Marsala, tomato paste, broth and cream.  Scrape the pan to deglaze it and then let the sauce simmer for a minute.
-  Place the cooked cutlets into the sauce, cover each with a slice of prosciutto, and sprinkle generously with the remaining Parmgiano.
-  Cover the pan and simmer over low heat until the cheese has melted.

I have also more times than not just cooked the chicken without the egg and crumbs and it was, if anything, even more delicious. So try it both ways and choose which way you like it the best.

If you'd like to try more of Biba's recipes, here are some of her cookbooks

Every time I eat this dish I dream I'm sitting in an Italian sidewalk cafe ..... something like this.

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw

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