February 28, 2011

Turkey Parmesan

Recently our hometown grocery had some nice-looking turkey cutlets for sale.   We picked some up, and after considering what to do with them, I decided to make some Turkey Parmesan.   I consulted our Chicken Parmesan recipe, published back in November, and came up with some improvements on that recipe.  After jotting down the changes, I went to work. 

One thing I discovered right away - which was not evident in looking at the package - was that the cutlets weren't even close to evenly-sized.   This forced me to cut some of the larger cutlets into two pieces before pounding them flat, because otherwise they wouldn't cook up as evenly as I'd prefer.   That wasn't too much hassle, fortunately, and everything else went off without a problem.  I breaded the cutlets in panko crumbs and Parmesan, fried them golden-brown on both sides, then tossed them on a wire rack, sprinkled them with cheese and tossed them in the oven to finish cooking.  Meanwhile, I cooked the spaghetti and made a quick and flavorful pasta sauce, and by the time those were done, the cutlets were ready to come out of the oven.

This turned out great - even better than the last time I made Chicken Parmesan.  The changes I made in the recipe really were improvements.  The cutlets were delicious - crisp outside, juicy, tender on the inside and flavorful all the way through - and the sauce was also quite tasty.   I even managed to find some good, fresh basil in the grocery (not at all a sure thing this time of year), which made for a nice garnish.

The recipe below will work fine for Chicken Parmesan, too.  Just use chicken breast cutlets in place of the turkey.   If you've printed off our Chicken Parmesan recipe, replace it with this one, because it's even better.  As far as I'm concerned, this recipe replaces our old one for Chicken Parm.

Turkey Parmesan

yield = 4 servings

1 1/2            pounds turkey breast cutlets
                    salt and pepper to taste
1                  cup all-purpose flour
2                  eggs
2                  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, + 2/3
                    cup for frying
2                  cups panko bread crumbs
1/4               cup freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, +
                    1/3 cup
1/2               cup freshly-shredded mozzarella cheese
1                  teaspoon table salt + 1/2 teaspoon
1                  onion, finely chopped
1                  teaspoon minced garlic
1/2               teaspoon dried oregano
1/4               teaspoon crushed dried basil
1/8               teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1                  can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1/2               ounces spaghetti
1/4               cup (packed) chopped, fresh basil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Set a wire rack atop the baking sheet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. 

Dry the turkey breast cutlets with paper towels and sprinkle on both sides with salt and pepper.   Put the flour in a wide, shallow dish (such as a pie plate).  Combine the eggs and one tablespoon olive oil in a small bowl.  Beat thoroughly, then pour into another wide, shallow dish.  Add the panko crumbs and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano in a third wide, shallow dish and mix thoroughly. 

Place one cutlet in the dish with the flour, flipping it to cover thoroughly and shaking off any loose flour.  Dip and flip the flour-covered cutlet in the egg mixture to coat it, letting any excess drip back into the bowl, then dip it into the panko mixture, pressing and flipping the cutlet to get the crumbs to stick on both sides.  Place the cutlet on the wire rack and repeat with other cutlets.  After coating all the cutlets, allow them to dry for 5 minutes to help the coating adhere.

Add four quarts of water and one teaspoon of salt to a large pot and start the water boiling for the spaghetti.

Heat 2/3 cup of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until smoking.  Place 2-3 cutlets in the oil and cook for about 3 minutes before flipping them and cooking another 3 minutes.  They should be browned on both sides.  Transfer the cutlets to a plate lined with three layers of paper towels.  Repeat with the rest of the cutlets, returning the fried, cooked cutlets to the wire rack. 

When all the cutlets have been fried, top each first with a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano, then with a bit of mozzarella, dividing the cheese evenly between the cutlets.  Place in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 7 minutes.

Add the last tablespoon of olive oil to a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, add the oil and cook until it has started to brown, then add the garlic, oregano, dried basil and red pepper flakes and cook another 30 seconds.  Stir in crushed tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, when the water comes to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook per package directions.

Remove the turkey cutlets from the oven, arrange on a serving platter and spoon some of the sauce over the cutlets.  Top with chopped fresh basil.  Serve with spaghetti and remaining sauce.

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