Chicken Parmesan with gluten-free bread crumbs

Joe got home before me tonight, so he was on dinner duty. It’s been a long Monday, so he went for Italian-American comfort food– chicken parm.

You know how to make this, right? Dip your chicken in egg, roll it in bread crumbs, brown it in a skillet, put it in a baking dish, pour tomato sauce over it, slice some mozzarella on top, stick it in the oven. Serve with pasta (I like quinoa-corn pasta). Not that hard.

The challenging bit, if you’re wheat-free, is the breading. When I lived in New York, I bought gluten-free bread crumbs in the baking section at the Union Square Whole Foods. Unfortunately, none of the Whole Foodses (?) here carry that brand, the name of which escapes me. If you’re looking for GF bread crumb options, two ideas:

-Philly Whole Foods stores DO carry a brand called Southern Homestyle Tortilla Crumbs. They’re GF and tasty, but they do have a very distinct corn flavor. Great for breading fish or pork chops, but they don’t blend into Italian dishes the way ordinary bread crumbs do.

-To make your own GF bread crumbs: Get yourself a loaf of GF bread. The best and most neutrally flavored you can find. Whole Foods’ Gluten-Free Bakehouse makes a good sandwich loaf. Food For Life loaves are decent, but the fruit-juice-sweetened ones have a sweet flavor that’s almost grape-y. Trader Joe’s GF English muffins aren’t bad– they crumble too easily to be practical for sandwiches, but are great for making bread crumbs.

Crumble your bread into your food processor. Give it a few pulses until it’s reduced down to crumbs. Spread them out on the bottom of a metal pan (with sides, please) and pop them into the oven for ten minutes or so. This isn’t an exact science, so keep an eye on them. When they’re nice and toasty, use them however you please.

They don’t keep for long, so don’t make more than you think you’ll use in a day or two.

UPDATE: According to Joe, Food For Life bread does NOT work well for this. He recommends letting the bread go a bit stale before doing this.

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