This is a version of a dish I’ve made a zillion times – cut up chicken into bites and fry it in butter on high heat, mix tomatoes and onions and a zillion spices and simmer/boil until rich and thick, add cheese. But something last night was different.
Husband was working on some work in the living room, and we had music playing, and I realized, as I cut onions and felt the familiar eye-burn, and grabbed half-a-dozen spice bottles from the shelf, liberally seasoning without measuring, and it somewhat hit me: I make something like this frequently. Some combination of a tomato sauce, something cheesy, and chicken or beef or pepperoni to add protein. I am actually a “regular” at this particular dish.
At the beginning of this year, I was only a regular for a few things, and most of them were dubiously cooking: does adding cheese to a meager-topping-ed frozen pizza count? Stir-frying a frozen veggie mix was a big deal to me. I certainly didn’t have an intuitive sense for how much red pepper flake I should add to a sauce. Now, I know how to shake in enough to get Husband to say “this is good, hon,” without shaking enough to send me gasping for water.
It’s still not true for every dish, but this dish was fun because chicken parm tends to be heavy on the parmesan and heavy on the chicken, but my version reversed the proportion. I served the whole thing on a bed of the chunky sauce, treating that like the main dish, with a sprinkling of chicken bites and shredded parmesan on top. It was pretty filling (I thickened the sauce with some corn flour, to my great happiness. Thank you to all the bloggers who gave me advice about my watery sauce last time!) but not reliant on cheese the way I generally am with dishes. Whatever your favorite chicken parm recipe is, consider using all the same ingredients but proportioning it this way – the sauce is a treat itself and fills you up!