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3.29.2012

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

I'll have you know that my last relationship with Chicken Parmesan didn't end well.  And not from a cooking perspective.  From a digesting perspective.  If you catch my drift.

I know, you're thinking please elaborate.

You see, as a 'tween, I was really into horses and horseback-riding, and I spent two weeks during the summer at a sleep-away camp for horse-lovers set in the rolling mountains and rough terrain of western New Jersey.  Quite the rustic little getaway.

Camp was totally fun!  I got to spend half of each day taking care of my very own horse, taking riding lessons, trail-riding, and gallivanting with other prepubescent little equestrians.  The rest of the day was spent participating in normal summer camp activities.

You know...arts and crafts, canoeing, Capture the Flag, trying not to be awkward...etc.

Looking back, it's where I learned camp-fire songs that I think I might remember forever.  It's where I learned to be self-sufficient, and aware of responsibility and goals.  It's where I learned to lie about my bra size.  Vital life skills, really.

And it's also where a boy told me that I'd never be able to hit a bulls eye in archery simply because I'm a girl.  Little punk.  He was right, though.  I'm no Katniss Everdeen.

This particular summer, I was rocking brand new Keds and (finally!) a brace-free mouth.  I was basically setup for success.  That day, the camp theme was "Backwards Day," which involved doing everything, well, backwards.  And camp took this very seriously.

Too seriously.  I mean, the idea of breakfast for dinner is genius.  Pancakes and french toast for dinner?  Heck yeah.  But dinner for breakfast?  Come on, god of awkward adolescence, throw me a bone!

As you probably guessed, the aroma of Chicken Parmesan greeted me in the Mess Hall at 7am that fateful morning...and let's just say the building's name held ground.  And I haven't had Chicken Parm since.

So when this recipe for Chicken Parmesan Burgers first crossed my brainscape, my first instinct was to move on before the inevitable wave of nausea hit.  But this...looked kinda good.  Could I finally be over my camp-induced Chicken Parm aversion?

Success!  The key to these delicious, healthy, burgers is lean ground chicken and garlic-rubbed, toasted rolls.  No rubbery, oily, breaded chicken cutlets or soggy rolls here.  And don't skimp on the fresh herbs!  Adding herbs and marinara to the chicken before cooking really turn these gems into something special.

Best part?  They came together in no time at all.  But actually, the best part for me was that I kept 'em down.  It was a labor of love.

And I did it for you!  All for you, so you can be a star when you whip these babies up for your next barbecue or casual Wednesday night.  Don't let me down now!  I risked my health for you!


Chicken Parmesan Burgers
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine
Yields 4 servings


Ingredients:
4  rolls (I used Ciabatta)
1 garlic clove, halved
1 lb ground chicken
1/2 c plus 4 tbs low-sodium marinara, divided
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt/pepper
1/2 c shredded part-skim or fat-free mozzarella cheese, divided
8 fresh basil leaves, sliced in half

Preparation:
Preheat the broiler to High.

Cut the rolls in half.  Place the bread, cut side up, on a baking sheet.  Broil for 3 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and rub each half with the garlic clove.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Combine the chicken, 1/2 c marinara, rosemary, red pepper, salt and pepper in a large bowl until JUST combined.  Don't overmix!  Divide into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/4-inch thick patty.



Heat an oven-proof skillet to medium-high heat, and coat with cooking spray.  Add the patties to the pan, and cook for 3 minutes.  Turn the patties over, and put the skillet in the oven.  Bake for 8 minutes.


Top each patty with 2 tbs of the cheese, and bake for an additional 3 minutes.


Layer the bottom half of each roll with 2 basil leaves, 1 patty, 1 tbs marinara, and 2 additional basil leaves, and then top with the other half of the roll.



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