Food Friday: Loving the Leftovers


Loving the Leftovers…

Or Parmigiana to Warm Your Chilly Soul

Although the weather has been bright and beautiful it is still winter and I am feeling chilly. And though a couple of New Year’s resolutions have already slid away from me, down that slippery slope, I am doing much better than last year in using up leftovers. I had a bucket of leftover spaghetti sauce in the freezer, but the beauty of this meal is that jarred sauce works fine, too, and you can substitute almost any meat (or vegetable) for the chicken. Welcome to the forgiving, oozy world of hot cheese, and chicken Parmigiana.

I cannot claim any proprietary rights to the deliciousness of the spaghetti sauce I used. Mr. Friday concocted it a couple of weekends ago. In our new enviable thrifty fashion we ate the meat sauce with Italian sausage and lacrosse ball-sized meatballs for Sunday dinner. Then served the sauce over ziti for a cold-busting Tuesday dinner. Then we popped the sauce into the freezer for almost a week. When Monday reared its ugly head we had a lovely piping hot carb-laden meal which prepared us for the onslaught of Tuesday. And on Wednesday evening I sizzled up a couple of breaded chicken cutlets and rummaged through the cheese collection to concoct chicken parmigiana. This is the recipe I used for temperature and timing guidance.

First, pre-heat the oven. Then breading with flour, egg, and bread crumbs are the next step. There are as many variations of Parmigiana as exist in your imagination (or larder). Eggplant, whether you bread it and fry it, or not. (In Italy the eggplant is generally sautéed, not breaded.) I wouldn’t bread sausages or meatballs, either. But the crispy crunchy crust will surround and enhance shrimp, chicken or veal cutlets. And consider the cauliflower, suddenly palatable. I use unseasoned Panko bread crumbs – extra crispy is my motto. And as soon as you have fried up your main ingredient, pop it into the pan and add the sauce and the cheese. You do not want the crisp crust to get sodden or leaden during the baking process.

I used a ball of fresh mozzarella for the cheesy ooziness, and I also grated a mountain of fresh tangy Parmesan cheese. But I have also used grated, store-brand, almost-going-blue mozzarella, and cardboard container Kraft Parmesan sawdust, and none of my diners has ever complained. It’s warm and deelish.

Last night we also served up a bowl of spaghetti to be a nest for the chicken cutlet – because you can never have too much spaghetti – and salad and garlic bread and an inexpensive bottle of red wine. I also baked brownies, because if I am going to hell in a hand basket, I want to have enjoyed dessert. You can join me later this afternoon when Luke and I waddle around the cemetery, pretending to get some exercise.

And guess what’s for lunch? A leftover chicken parm sandwich! Luke is delighted! The New Year is off to a swell start!

“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.”
― Sophia Loren

About Jean Sanders

Write a Letter to the Editor on this Article

We encourage readers to offer their point of view on this article by submitting the following form. Editing is sometimes necessary and is done at the discretion of the editorial staff.