Friday, March 19, 2010

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Oh, Chicken Parmigiana, how do I love thee? I love your crisp, seasoned crust. I love your tangy, herb-studded marinara sauce. I love your ooey, gooey, decadent blanket of cheese. I love the saucy noodles that usually ride shotgun on the plate with you.

I love you. Except for one leeeeetle problem.

You are a Calorie Bomb from Hell. Yeah, I know you think you're all sneaky, because you are chicken--boneless, skinless, chicken at that--which everyone knows is healthy, right?

You little charlatan. You.....Lothario! You seduce us with promises of lean, nutritious protein, add the enticement of a vegetable-studded sauce and then? Ka-blammo! You knock us onto our rapidly-expanding ass.

The proof is in the pudding*. The Chicken Parmigiana entree at the Olive Garden restaurant contains just how many calories, do you think? Huh? I mean, it's only chicken, right? Wrong. The magic number is: 1,090.

'Tis true. You can look it up yourself. And that number doesn't even include the salad and those Crack Breadsticks they serve. 1,090 calories for one meal is seven kinds of wrong, people!

I think I might have a single glass of wine or a Go-gurt left over in the calorie bank after eating Olive Garden Chicken Parm (no salad, no breadsticks. If I eat those, I've hit my calorie allotment for the whole freaking day).

But this sucks! I love you, Chicken Parm! What's a girl--a girl with a firm eye on the size of her backside--to do?

In my case, a girl finds a really kick-butt recipe in Bon Appetit for Chicken Parmesan Burgers. A recipe which, when followed as directed, clocks in at 554 calories. Not bad! If you are on Le Regime, or even a half-assed Regime, you can do like I did and skip the top layer of bread (or skip bread altogether and add a side salad) and make it a knife-and-fork affair.

Any way you dish it up, it will deliver that crave-worthy Chicken Parm taste without the walk of shame in the morning.

Chicken Parmesan Burgers
from Bon Appetit
serves 4

10 1/2-inch-thick slices French bread (4 inches in diameter); 8 slices toasted, 2 slices (crust removed) diced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese**
4 tablespoons minced fresh basil, divided, plus 12 large basil leaves
3/4 cup purchased refrigerated marinara sauce
12 ounces ground chicken (white meat)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon grated onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
4 large radicchio leaves

Blend diced bread and Parmesan in processor to fine crumbs. Transfer to pie dish; mix in 2 tablespoons minced basil.

Mix marinara and 2 tablespoons basil in a small saucepan. Transfer 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce to large bowl. Add chicken, 1/2 tablespoon oil, onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle with pepper; blend. Shape into four 1/2-inch thick patties; coat with crumbs. Heat sauce over low heat.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook patties until bottoms are crusty, 4 minutes. Turn patties over, top with cheese. Cook 3 minutes.

Cover; cook until cooked through and cheese is melted, about 1 minute.

Assemble burgers with bread, radicchio, basil leaves and warm marinara.

* Proof is in the pudding? Where did that wacky phrase come from, I wonder? That makes no stinking sense.

** Since there are so few ingredients in this recipe, I'm going to urge you to buy the GOOD stuff. Parmigianno-Reggiano from Italy, in the block form. No pre-shredded cheese! The already shredded kind loses it's flavor in like, a day. Okay, enough harassin' ya.


  1. These sound really good. Depressing about regular chicken parm tho....
    And you're right about the shredded cheese. Besides, it's fun to grate it yourself. Yes, I'm that easy to please.

  2. Ahh, chicken parmesan, how I love thee, too. Except, the last time we made it, we set off the smoke detectors, which are hard-wired to the fire dept, and well, you can guess the rest.

    That was the last time we made chicken parmesan.

  3. Oh. My. Goodness. I KNOW that I will be making this on Sunday...Thank you for your generosity of spirit...I don't know if I would share something so good...

  4. Y U M M Y! I'm going to the store after I get off work (because the damn weatherman says
    s n o w for tomorrow)and I will picking up the ingredients to make this for dinner tonight.

    Thank you so much for all the dinner ideas you have provided my family.

  5. Oh, the things I learn when I visit here! I'm going to immediately forget the magic Olive Garden number. But I'll hold onto the tip about pre-shredded cheese (which I do occasionally indulge in since I hate the grater so). Thanks, Kitch!

  6. Okay, TKW, now I'm thoroughly intrigued: what does that post-Parm walk of shame look like??? ;)

  7. Reading this as I steal fries from my kid's plate and wash it down with a beer....for DINNER! My dinner choices are ALL KINDS OF WRONG. Please be my personal chef. My ass needs all kinds of shrinking! But mah mouth does NOT like to sacrifice, you hear?

  8. Wow looks really good, I am a fan of Chicken Parmesan too. Just love it! Same as you however, the belt doesn't so much. This one is coming up in our house soon Thanks

  9. I love me some crack breadsticks :)
    And chicken parm... oh yum. Will have to try this take soon, as the one I make might be almost as bad for you as the one at Olive Garden.

  10. Done....looks so good this will be dinner, tomorrow!

  11. Can I just say I love what you do with food. Yum-o! And I am so for skipping the bun...I'd rather indulge in other ways.

  12. Mmmmm - sounds positively delightful! I think I found my Sunday evening dinner minus the bun but certainly adding in the block parm!!!

  13. Sneaky, sneaky Olive Garden (which my husband calls "Pork Garden" for our obvious problem). I haven't eaten there since I swore off the bottomless bowl of spaghetti and meatballs (and asked if they contained pork - oops).

    So, how do you think this would be on a veggie burger? :)

  14. What a great way to lighten it up! This looks wonderful.

  15. Oh goody! A fun burger idea! I have been having dinner block lately! Those Olive Garden bread sticks are truly irresistible!

  16. Your burger looks sooo good! I am also a lover of the lard ass parma but I'd take your version to save the arteries-- nice one TKW

  17. THIS (at last) I think I can do. And THIS, my kid would love.

    The Kitch Witch gives us chicken parmagiana
    I know this food will bribe my growing teen
    Lately he sure is a prima donna
    (Hormone swings to yield a surly scene.)

    Anything to tame the teenage beastie
    (And the calories are good for moms)
    This for sure would be a real great feastie
    (And I will not need to sit with "ohms..."

    Yes I'm sonnetizing early now.
    Life is dull, your blog is not and how.

  18. (And yes, I know, my line count was askew.
    I skipped a quatrain, go one, shoot me now.
    Woke too early, dammit, wouldn't you
    Leave off couplets like a silly cow???)

  19. Geez, Louise, the talent here. I was thinking of saying to TKW: You WILL be writing a cooking book a la Elizabeth David but with your own personality instead, right? Lesson learnt about CP - cut the carbs, not the sauce or cheese.

    Then I come down to this last post by BLW - she write poetry about TKW's post. I'm in awe.

    All I had to add was
    "All the proof of a pudding is in the eating."
    goes back to at least 1600, possibly from Don Quixotes, see

    Boring, I know, but we can all be stellar.

  20. Seriously, YUM. I am hungry now.
    And I always have a chunk of real parm in my fridge. So good.

  21. Just those tender little basil leaves placed oh-so-gently on top made me salivate (I'm a sucker for fresh basil). This looks positively yummy! We were going to grill regular burgers this weekend - looks like I'm making a quick menu change!

  22. When I was a Girl Scout in suburban New Jersey in the '80s, we went on a "field trip" to the kitchen of a local Olive Garden, and the kind folks there let us see how fresh pasta was made.

    That is the one and only positive experience I've ever had at an OG, but the memory remains.

    Anywho, I love chicken parm, too! It's one of those things I would never make for myself (for precisely the reasons you point out here, though of course you've eliminated much of those anxieties), but always thrilled over when someone else cooked it for a dinner party or holiday. So delicious!

  23. I love burgers that are a little different... and I love chicken Parmesan. So I guess this is a win-win situation for me.

  24. OMG I LOVE Little Big Wolf! And I love the cartoon with this one. I think I can handle this recipe TKW. Sunday night!

  25. That sounds so super delish....mmmmm, I think we will have to try it.

  26. Oh, yum! I'm definitely making this one!

  27. Definitely trying this one. I'm salivating at the very thought. Imagine a burger that's not boring old ground beef. :D

  28. yes...olive garden is definitely a once-in-awhile place to eat. i don't know if one can leave without eating at least 1000 calories worth of food. i like your recipe here. also, i've never found any proof in any pudding. :)

  29. I don't cook unless I absolutely have to, and yet you have seduced me to a point where I can keep coming back for more and more of KitchWitch.....
    Tagged you over at my blog today for some fun. C'mon, I wanna you carry recipe cards around???

  30. Now I'm dreaming about having a blanket of cheese.

  31. Okay...1090 calories in one meal is just so wrong. And that chicken parm burger is making me salivate. I am now looking at your blog like it's a roast chicken.

  32. That sounds amazing!
    Chicken Parmesan is so yummy; it's so sad that it comes with a bad rap in most places.

  33. This is definitely what we're having for dinner tonight. Thank you for saving me from having to figure something out for myself! Now if I can only get you to ship some out to me, already prepared.

  34. almost missed this gem...always good to know the low fat versions...but man...the original - why why why so many calories?! How unfair is that?! And you'd never know... I just like to eat in ignorance...I know you should not but...but...the truth hurts! xxx

  35. How did I miss this post?? This sounds delicious! It's slated for dinner on Wed night! Thanks TKW!

  36. Nooooooo don't tell me that!! The boyfriend's mother made some the other week and stuck some in some tupperware for us to have so we have some back-up meals in the freezer for when I can't be bothered to cook (which is always). Now I'm going to get the guilts when I take it out and cram it all in to my mouth in one go. Damn you calories!

  37. This looks so good, hard to believe it's a "reduced fat" version and still so godamn tasty sounding (does that even make sense?). I'm gonna skip the bread and have a gin & ginger beer in it's place mmmm.

  38. Because I have had this post and recipe on the brain for four days now, we'll be having chicken parm burgers for dinner tonight. Using basil leaves from an actual plant - how is it that a whole damn pot of living basil costs less than the packaged "fresh" variety? Just another TGIspring moment.

  39. Mental note to self: do not read this blog when you are on a diet and hungry. :-) I love chicken parmigiana and this *lighter* variation sounds sinfully good. Thanks for the idea.