Mel’s Diner

Sharp Knives, Raw Meat and Fire


Flipping through the September Bon Appetit, I came across an article on family meals at various restaurants.  Family meal is the staff meal before service, usually something not all that wonderful using leftover and sometimes questionable ingredients.  Of course, some restaurants make a big (or at least bigger) deal and these are the places Bon Appetit highlighted.

The meal that caught my eye was from Mario Batali’s Otto (There’s no link because Mario’s site seems to have been hacked and infected with viruses) in New York – Chicken Parmesan.  It’s the recipe of choice when the Morning Sous is cooking.  It uses Mario’s Basic Tomato Sauce, something I’ve never made.  I’ve been hesitant to try it because it has carrot in it and I just couldn’t understand that.  But, I made it and I used my canned tomatoes.  Speaking of those, I picked up another box of tomatoes and they ripened so quickly, I had to can them Thursday night.  They were starting to soften and split and no way would they last another few days, so as I watched John McCain, I steamed up the kitchen.  Anyway, this is my adaptation of Otto’s Family Meal Chicken Parmesan

Mario’s Basic Tomato Sauce

  • 1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried
  • ¾ cup medium carrot, finely shredded
  • 28-ounces peeled whole tomatoes
  • Salt

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook for 5 minutes more, or until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes with their juices. Bring to a boil, stirring often, and then lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Season with salt and serve.

OK, this was the best tomato sauce I have ever had!  It was outrageous!  The only problem is I’m not sure if it was the carrot or the tomatoes that made it so good, but one way or the other, it was incredible.


  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups of fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup of flour
  • 2-3 cups of mozzarella
  • 1 ½ cups of grated parmesan-asiago-romano cheese, mixed

Cut the breasts in half lengthwise.  Add the flour to a gallon zip bag and add the 6 chicken breast pieces and shake it up until the breast pieces are coated.  Add olive oil to a on-stick skillet and bring up to temp over medium-high heat.  Mix the eggs in a pie plate and add the breadcrumbs to another plate.  Shake off the excess flour from the breast pieces, dip in the egg and then into the breadcrumbs and then into the skillet without overcrowding.  Cook on each side for 2 minutes.

While the first batch is in the skillet, add some of the tomato sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 inch glass baking dish.  Move the first three chicken breasts to the dish and top with ½ the remaining sauce and ½ the cheeses.  After the next three breasts are done, add to the dish and top with the remaining sauce and then the cheese.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.


Oh, yeah – just look at it.  It was as good as it looks.


September 7, 2008 - Posted by | Main Dish, Recipe

1 Comment »

  1. Look delicious. I’ve made tomato sauces with carrot and I like it. I like chicken parmesan although I’ve never made it, but I do like to make mushroom parm.

    Comment by Sara | September 7, 2008 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: