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The Gathering

August 4, 2011

Archie’s making an impression over in New York.  He has his own accommodation but it’s ‘student-digs’ so fortunately for him he

Chicken Parmigiana

has an auntie with an apartment in the West Village.

His Auntie has a toddler and is therefore inexperienced when it comes to teenagers so is naive and foolishly trusting.  She let it slip that she was heading Up State for a few days for 4th of July celebrations.

Ever so quickly Archie lept to tell her how special it would be for him to enjoy the 4th of July fireworks from her rooftop garden and that he would be able to ‘help her’ as could ‘look after’ the apartment while she was away.  ‘I could keep an eye on the place for you’ were his words.  Teenagers are good like that.  ‘And do you think I could have a gathering?’ he continued.

Aunties with experience only with toddlers do not understand ‘the gathering’.

For the uninitiated a gathering is code for loud music, excessive alcohol and five times as many guests as you promised.

His auntie isn’t too naive.  She did say that roof top parties were banned in her building but he could have ‘a few’ mates over for ‘one or two’ drinks and she did ask what he was doing about the catering.  Alarm bells should have gone off when he replied that it was all under control because everyone was bringing different kinds of shots.  Confused she said, ‘no, I meant what are you doing about food?’ and ever so confidently Archie replied that one person was bringing corn chips.  She handed him the keys and said he would have to be out by Monday night as she was arriving back first thing Tuesday morning to let the cleaner in.

‘Not a problem’ replied Archie.

Somehow Archie managed to get about 15 newly acquired mates loaded with shots past the doorman.  The fireworks were spectacular but nobody can remember them.

First thing Tuesday morning the auntie with toddler and cleaner in tow put the key into the door and stepped into the apartment.  She’d never seen anything like it.  Pizza boxes (all empty) scattered around the normally pristine home, kitchen benches groaning under the weight of ’empties’, a freezer filled with exploded bottles of alcohol and Archie asleep in her bed with all his dirty washing strewn from one end of the room to the other.

She had to physically shake him to wake him from what can only be described as one of those teenage comas.  Totally dazed he gradually came to and asked, ‘why are you back a day early?’  But his auntie said, ‘remember I told you three times I would be back first thing Tuesday morning?’  And as if things weren’t bad enough, Archie asked, ‘Is it Tuesday?’  She said, ‘I need you to get out of bed and pack your things as I’ve got work to do and the baby needs a sleep.’  Archie managed to pull himself from the bed while his auntie took an armful of empties to the recycling bin.

She thought she had given Archie adequate instructions and a loud enough signal to ‘move on’ but she came back into the apartment and there he was on her couch strumming his guitar.

Later that night she was on the skype to me.  I gave her my condolences but told her sadly, this is not an isolated incident.  ‘What you came home to is what many mothers of teenagers face for about five years.  Apparently it’s to do with the frontal lobe.  It doesn’t fully develop until they are 22 and so prior to that day of relief they have impaired decision making’.

Only four years to go.

I did get on the skype to Archie and I did fully intend to berate him for his abuse of the West Village apartment it’s just that he got in first by telling me how he’s changed his mind about going to Uni in 2012 and instead wants to save up for a motorbike and ride around Australia.  ‘Wouldn’t that be great Mum’, he stated.  So my attention was diverted elsewhere.  He also let me know that on the day of his return to Australia he won’t be needing a family dinner because he’s off to the pub ‘with the boys for a chicken parmigana’.

So exploding bottles of booze oozing from my sister’s freezer paled into insignificance as I realised with horror that I haven’t been missed.

Archie…if you stay home for dinner I’ll cook you and the boys Chicken Parmigiana.

Chicken Parmigiana

Serves 4

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5

Cost:  Depends how many ‘boys’ turn up for dinner

1 tbspn extra virgin olive oil + 1/4 cup for frying

1 small onion finely chopped

2 cloves of crushed garlic

400gm tin of tomatoes (I used tinned cherry tomatoes)

1 tbspn brown sugar

small handful of torn basil leaves

4 free-range chicken breasts

plain flour

2 lightly beaten eggs

1 tbspn milk

1 cup breadcrumbs

60gms butter

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

For the sauce:

Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tbspn olive oil.  Add onion and cook gently until softened.  Add garlic and stir for 1 more minute.  Add tomates, brown sugar and basil.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

For the Chicken:

Heat oven to 200°C

Gently pound chicken breasts between two sheets of glad wrap until an even thickness.  Coat lightly in plain flour and shake off excess.  Combine beaten egg and milk and dip breasts into egg wash then coat in breadcrumbs.

Heat frying pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil and butter.  Add chicken breasts and cook for 3 minutes on each side.  You may need to cook in batches.  Remove chicken when cooked and drain on paper towels.

Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper.  Top with tomato sauce.  Combine cheeses and spread over the top of the chicken.  Place in the oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.

Serve with mashed potato and salad.

Home cooking is better than pub food!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Carl permalink
    August 4, 2011 11:21 am

    That was the best bloody parmigiana I’ve had yet! Why would you go to the pub for a parmigiana? Thanks Darl. X

  2. Ali permalink
    August 4, 2011 11:24 am

    fantastic….hilarious! (p’raps not for the gracious sister) Yes, “the gathering” I have heard this referred to myself in a plea from a teenager. My response was “please tell me how this is different from a party? “

  3. angie permalink
    August 4, 2011 11:27 am

    I’m a vegetarian but that recipe looks delicious!

  4. August 5, 2011 2:17 am

    i too have had many ‘gatherings’ hehe

  5. Henrietta Tilelli permalink
    August 5, 2011 3:00 pm

    Well Phoebe turning 20 has asked to have a” Gathering” , a small one Sunday night before they all go to Kit and Caboodle ???????? “Would you take Dad out for movie and dinner , he gets so stressy !” “How Many ?” “Not Many, don’t worry you won’t even know we’ve been here” . I am seriously worried now. Husband will kill ME after our NYE fiasco ! What to do ?????????????????
    Love the blog, will make the parmigana !!

  6. August 12, 2011 3:18 am

    Looks delicious. I heard this week restaurants are banning patrons from taking photo’s of food, so it cant be copied!!!! So much for family photo shots

  7. August 12, 2011 3:34 am

    No law then against photographing your own food.

  8. October 21, 2011 10:10 pm

    Love your stories and recipes. This Chicken Parmigiana looks great!

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