Dr. Melfi’s Chicken with Parsley Crumbs

It may not have been in the best interests of our waistlines this past year but, for many of us, binge watching TV shows and eating comfort foods have kept us content and safe at home during the pandemic.

When the HBO hit series The Sopranos premiered in 1999, no one would have imagined what would come 20 years later and how our lives would change with Covid-19. An escape from our reality is entering the fictional lives of mobster Tony Soprano and his wife Carmela, plus those of their family, friends, and “associates.” Each episode promises lots of family and “workplace” tension and drama, but also plenty of delicious food.

If you’ve opted to watch your favorite episodes again or, like my husband and me, you’re finally watching The Sopranos for the first time, why not add to the experience by checking out a cookbook inspired by the show? The Sopranos Family Cookbook: As Compiled by Artie Bucco, is written by Allen Rucker, with recipes by Michele Scicolone. The fictional Vesuvio’s restaurant chef Bucco “interviews” characters including Tony’s wife Carmela, Corrado Soprano Jr. (Uncle Junior), Tony’s sister Janice Soprano, Tony’s therapist Dr. Jennifer Melfi and her ex, Dr. Richard La Penna, and “Uncle” Paulie Gualtieri. Of course, Bucco couldn’t leave out Tony, who gives his cooking advice in a chapter titled “Grilling – Italian Style.”

The book features more than just typical Italian recipes. Sure, the Sopranos ate lots of lasagna and manicotti each week. But other recipes are worth a try, too, including Chicken with Parsley Crumbs. It’s featured in the chapter about Dr. Jennifer Melfi and her ex, Dr. Richard La Penna. My husband and I have enjoyed this easy and flavorful dish twice, and now refer to it as “Dr. Melfi’s Chicken.” While it calls for a 3-pound chicken, cut into pieces, we used boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken (about 3 pounds), cut up (or boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sprinkle the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Place the pieces skin side up in a baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl.
  4. Brush the chicken with the mustard. Sprinkle with the crumb mixture, patting it on so that it adheres. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes more, or until the juices run clear when the chicken is cut near the bone. Serve hot or cold.

Other recipes include Sunday Gravy, Janice’s Vegetarian Baked Ziti, Melfi’s Minestrone, Orange and Fennel Salad, Almond Torte, Grilled Sausages, Tuna Steaks with Lemon and Oregano, and Ricotta Cheesecake.

The Sopranos Family Cookbook: As Compiled by Artie Bucco, is available upon request here. It’s also available as an e-book here. And if you want to watch the series on DVD, you can start by requesting Season One here.

Dr. Melfi’s Chicken with Parsley Crumbs
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