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RBR Tailgating: Chicken Parmesan

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An Italian classic with a Southern hack thrown in for good measure.

I had a Dickensian experience at the Alabama game last weekend.

There were the best of times. Tailgating. Pantomime re-enacting the "Arkansas sling" and Freeze's reaction to said. Stuffing a Heisman favorite and winning in a commanding style was obviously tremendous. Getting to spend time with cousins from Baton Rouge and Maryland. Watching one of those cousins haggle with a stranger over the last gas station egg roll at the Cottondale Chevron. Celebrating sentence fragments. There were definitely highs.

There were also the worst of times. I sat in section LL, row 14, seat 8 (or so as we had four seats and no one paid strict attention to which of the four he sat in.) If you sat behind me in section LL, row 15, seat 8 (or so), you are an embarrassing jackass.

This is the game that I never miss. There are four of us, two Alabama fans and two LSU fans who have sat together for at least five years. This year, one of the LSU fans dropped out because of a broken rib or four so mmdarby joined us, leaving a lone LSU cousin in a sea of Alabama.

I should note, that in Death Valley, I am always treated well amidst the purple and yellow.

Three fans of my own stripe began an asinine series of chants and bellows somewhere around the beginning of the fourth quarter.

"Fournette sucks!" Cried the crimson clad trio.

"Give it to the real Heisman winner!" by which they meant Henry.

"Fournette sucks!" lest we forget.

"Our D rocks!" or some such variant on the idea that. "Our defense is #1!"

Most of this was directed to the back of my purple hatted cousin's head. Loudly. Relentlessly.

If I wasn't so sure that they were wasted beyond the capacity to form a plan, I'd swear that they were trying to get him to throw the first punch.

Again, can I say that I am always treated well in Death Valley? I was a little embarrassed by these members of my fan base and fell prey to one of the cardinal sins of stadium decorum. I attempted to reason with a drunk.

To be fair, I had some Jameson on the way to Tuscaloosa and at my brother in-law's fraternity house I had a bit of what passed for bourbon - something called Thompson's. I'll not spit in the face of hospitality and the fact that Thompson's was free and gladly served commends the frat to me greatly, but the taste was...

For those of you who have ever smoked, harken back to that first puff of that first cigarette and the coughs that followed. I'm only slightly exaggerating when I say that each sip of Thompson's elicited the same reaction. The recovery time between sips had a sobering effect, and unlike my co-fans in row 15, I stopped drinking before coming into Bryant Denny.

Anyway, the following is a verbatim transcript of what was said:

Me: "Pray dear sirs, I do believe you have misspoken."

Drunken Trio: "Huh?"

Me: "Well, it would seem in your exuberance that you have presented as fact two diametrically opposed suppositions."

Drunken Trio: "Huh?"

Me: "It follows that our defense is impenetrable because of the fact that we are restraining a superlative running back or that said back is unworthy of praise because of his inability to run against an average line, but not both. Do you see the error in your declarations?"

Drunken Trio: /pause

Me: /smile of camaraderie

Drunken Trio: "Fournette Sucks! Give it to the real Heisman trophy winner! Our D rulzzzzzzzz!"

At least that's how I remember it.

Either way, I bring this up not to bury our fan base, but to praise them. Because even in our lowest, the Alabama fan's drunken declaration has more meaning, sense, and poetry that what we will find in our next opponent's chosen form of expression.

Try putting in a syllogism, or even diagramming ,"CLANGA!"

Chicken Parmesan with an Eye Toward Leftovers

4 Boneless Chicken Breast or about 3 lbs

1 lb. Spaghetti

2 28 oz. cans Peeled Whole Tomatoes

1 chopped handful Fresh Basil

4-6 peeled and smashed Garlic Cloves

Red Pepper Flakes to taste

Salt

Flour for dusting

Bread Crumbs

3-4 eggs

Olive Oil

8 -16 oz. of Fresh Mozzarella, a range which sounds odd but will become clear

Flat-leaf Parsley, minced for garnish

Hammered Chicken

One by one, place each breast on a cutting board and pound flat, to within half an inch to an inch. In the picture I covered with a piece of cling wrap and suggest you do too. The alternative is getting little bits of raw chicken all over the kitchen. Once flat the breasts will take up a lot of square footage so cut into realistic sized servings. I split each into three pieces.

Frying Chicken

Set two plates up assembly line fashion, one heaped with flour and the other with bread crumbs. In between, set a bowl with the beaten eggs. Preheat a few glugs of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

In batches, dust the chicken in the flour, dip in the egg wash, and coat with bread crumbs. Fry gently (I have no idea what that means but I see in cookbook after cookbook) in the oil until golden. Don't worry about cooking all the way through at this point. Get the outside nice and crisp without burning and remove. Add oil in between batches and heat as needed.

Sauce Ingredients

This is a very basic sauce.

I'm of the opinion that buying whole canned tomatoes and ripping them up by hand in a bowl with their juices is preferable to using pureed tomatoes. I think that ripped up the tendrils grip the pasta better than a puree, but that's just my preference. If you disagree, sub some pureed cans.

Sauce Pic

Add a few glugs of olive oil to a sauce pan along with the garlic over medium high heat. When the garlic gets aromatic, way before it browns, add the tomatoes, basil, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Loads of Chicken

Top the chicken with thinly sliced mozzarella.

I made enough for leftovers, so I left half the chicken un-cheesed. Re-melted is no good. As I heat things up for serving, I add mozzarella as needed.

Anyway, put both the half with cheese and the half without into an oven preheated to 400˚ for fifteen minutes to finish cooking the chicken.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in some heavily salted water.

Final Chic Parm

Roll Tide, no injuries, serve, and enjoy.

Normally that's that, but this week there's more.

The next day, you can take all of the un-cheesed filets, or if you wish, skip everything from the frying stage on, and ape a pretty realistic ersatz Chick-Fil-A.

Frying Bread

The blueprint for the best selling season-beginning sponsor is fried chicken on a buttered bun with a pickle. Ideally steamed.

You already have the fried chicken. If you are skipping straight to this and ignoring the Parmesan aspects of this recipe, put the chicken in the oven for fifteen minutes to finish cooking.

Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a skillet and fry the buns for a minute or two and remove.

Steaming Sandwiches

Add a filet trimmed to fit to the bun, a couple of pickles, and steam for five minutes until soft and hot. If you don't have a steamer, you can heat the chicken in the oven, toast the buns, add the pickles and enjoy a very good sandwich as you contemplate how much better things would be if you had a steamer.

Serve with fries ala last week's post.

CHFA Sand

So if you do this right you get Chicken Parm on Saturday, before or after The Alabama Crimson Tide takes on The Mississippi State Bulldogs. Then you get a Chick-Fil-esque sandwich on Sunday, even though the actual font-o-fil-a is closed. I can't help you with waffle fries. That's beyond my mandolin skills.

Roll Tide, no Injuries, beat CLANGA.