Saturday, 28 August 2010

Chicken-Fried Steak Parmigiana

Back in my days at university I remembered that I shared quite a few grocery items with my roommate. One of these was a 250g plastic can of Sainsbury's Grated Hard Cheese, that we would use to sprinkle liberally on anything remotely Italian: Bolognese, Carbonara, even Swedish Meatballs from Ikea. Still, given our love for cheese and our inability to afford the more authentic Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano and Grana Padano, it kept our spirits high, at least at mealtimes, while we worked out way through university.

Sainsbury's recently reorganised their cheese section, and added a few new items across the range. I originally intended to use this blog post to investigate the new Basics Italian Hard Cheese, made with both buffalo and cow's milk, in contrast to the sole use of cow's milk for the three Italian hard cheese mentioned above. However, I don't currently have a cheese grater in my kitchen, and doubt that I can finish a wedge of hard cheese in 2 months, especially given the lack of Basics cashew nuts at my local to combine with to make pesto. It was around that time that I discovered that, horrors of horrors, the Grated Hard Cheese has been demoted to the Basics range.

I suppose that with the apparent upturn in the economy, Sainsbury's thinks that it can afford to target the more upmarket consumers and rearrange their product line in a bid to encourage them to buy the more expensive items. Given the circumstances then, I will have to put off the review of the Basics Italian Hard Cheese to later. Perhaps a shoot-out between that and its other equivalents in the Basics and other ranges is in order.

Let's focus on today though. I have one more Basics frying steak left, and given that similar cuts of beef are commonly used in the southern parts of the United States to make chicken-fried steak (effectively steak, battered and deep-fried like chicken), it might be fun to try to do this. Topping it with cheese and tomato sauce before baking the whole thing would then make it a Parmigiana of sorts.

So start first by preparing some flour mixed with pepper, and a mixture of milk and egg (approximately 1:1 and beaten together, unlike the 2:1 unbeaten mixture shown in the photo). Dredge the steak in the flour first, then the milk-egg mixture, and then the flour again, so that the steak looks like below.

Deep fry the steak, or if you're feeling healthy, fill a shallow pan with enough oil to cover the bottom surface, and then fry both sides.

Put into baking tray and top with Basics pasta sauce and the Basics Grated Hard Cheese. If you want you could also supplement it with a soft cheese. I had some Basics Brie still hanging around in my fridge so I used that.

Put the steak into the oven at 180-200 degrees Celsius. Ideally, the batter of the steak will still remain crisp, without the cheese burning out. Meanwhile, cook some Basics spaghetti. Skim off the oil in the pan used to fry the steak, leaving just a little behind. Use this to fry the spaghetti with herb mix after it is done. If you still have some of the milk-egg mixture remaining you can add this to the mix to make a primitive carbonara.

This recipe can be time consuming, but curiosity can get the better of you and help you see it through to the finish. The ingredients involved all seem to be very mild in flavour so feel free to be a bit more liberal with the seasonings, eg the pepper and Basics herb mix. Just like other items found in Southern States cuisine, this can be a very hearty meal to keep you warm over the winter, or freak summer weather spells like the one we've seen recently.

Price per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Grated Hard Cheese£2.50250gN/AN/A; no direct alternative

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