Nicole and Andy Cook: A nice and simple chicken parmesan with cacio e pepe

For week two, we cooked a chicken parmesan paired with cacio e pepe pasta


Nico Gatapia and Andrew Tow

For the second installment of Nicole and Andy cook, we decided to take on the famous chicken parmigiana, more commonly known as chicken parmesan. Neither of us had much experience cooking nor eating chicken parmesan, so we thought it would be a great choice to challenge our cooking skills.

Chicken parmesan is the larger, well-dressed version of the chicken nugget. A good bite of chicken parmesan will make you feel good on any day. The crispy chicken crust fills your mouth with joy. The grease of the cheese is cut by the sourness of the marinara, creating a perfect balance between the flavors.

To complement the chicken parmesan, we wanted a simple and easy pasta dish. We thought about it briefly and remembered making cacio e pepe during one of our many culinary expeditions. Cacio e pepe is Italian for cheese and pepper and the dish is as simple as the name; pasta with cheese and pepper.

  Cacio e pepe is about as plain as you can get with pasta. It is incredibly easy to make with only five ingredients: pasta, parmesan, pepper, garlic and salt. Despite its simplicity, it still manages to have a very strong flavor. The flavor of the pepper, garlic, and parmesan work well by themselves, but with the chicken parmesan the dish just pops and is perfect for a Tuesday night dinner.

The first time we made cacio e pepe, it was bland and uninteresting. However, when we paired it with the bold flavor of chicken parmesan, it rocked. We also added salt and a clove of minced garlic to give the dish a little more pizzazz. Thankfully, it turned out a lot better than last time.

To make chicken parmesan, you will need:
3 chicken breasts
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 eggs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
½ cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup marinara sauce
½ cup shredded mozzarella

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.

2. Wrap the chicken with saran wrap or paper towel.

3. Flatten the thicker parts of the chicken until the chicken is an even thickness of about ½ inch.

After tenderizing the meat, we sprinkled on some salt and pepper.

4. Salt and pepper your chicken to your heart’s content.

By Andrew Tow
To prepare the chicken, we first dipped the breast in flour. We followed by dipping it in egg wash and concluded by lathering the chicken in breadcrumbs.

5. Prepare three separate bowls. One for flour, one for the eggs (beaten), and one for the panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.

6. Dredge the chicken in the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs in that order. Make sure to get a good amount of coverage and repeat for each chicken breast.

7. Heat up a skillet to medium-high heat and add your butter and olive oil.

8. Fry each chicken breast for 3-4 minutes on each side. This gives the chicken that crispy golden-brown crust.

9. Put the chicken breasts in a baking dish and top with marinara sauce, parmesan, and mozzarella cheese. Don’t overdo the marinara or else your skin won’t be crispy.

10. Throw that baby in the oven for 20 minutes.

To make cacio e pepe you will need:
Spaghetti noodles or pasta of choice
Parmesan (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter

Boil your noodles until al dente and strain.

For week two, we made a nice and simple chicken parmesan. This dish was complemented with a plate of cacio e pepe and a glass of sparking fruit punch.

Heat a skillet to medium-high heat and oil or butter the pan.
Mince a clove of garlic and toss into the oil.
Add your pasta and season with salt, pepper and parmesan.
Enjoy your meal.

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