Over the years I have collected and used many recipes from First Ladies. Ronald Reagan’s Favorite Macaroni and Cheese is one of our favorite comfort foods. I love Barbara Bush’s Barbeque Chicken. I make Mary Todd Lincoln’s Almond Cake to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday. I made Mamie Eisenhower’s Million Dollar Fudge and Melania Trump’s Star Cookies for a tea at the Governor’s Residence a year ago. So now I am looking at First Lady Jill Biden’s recipes to see what I can add to my “What’s for dinner?” repertoire.
I watched a video of the First Lady making Chicken Parmesan with Rachael Ray and I thought that would be a great recipe for Sunday family dinners. Since we’re still not getting together as a family to eat, I’m just going to make it in smaller casserole dishes so I can share it with some of my kids that live close by. It looks like a fun, and relatively easy dish to make, and I’m sure my family will love it — especially with a big bowl of Rigatoni and extra Parmesan cheese to serve with it! Below is her recipe from Tasty.
Jill Biden’s Chicken Parmesan
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
2- 28 ounce cans canned whole peeled tomato
¼ cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Make the marinara sauce: In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, 3-5 minutes. Drain one can of tomatoes, discarding the liquid. Add the drained and full remaining can of tomatoes and salt. Using a wooden spoon or potato masher, break up the tomatoes. Then simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the garlic cloves, and stir in the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2 large eggs
3 Tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ cups seasoned italian bread crumbs
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded to ¼-inch thick (cut into serving size pieces)
olive oil, for frying
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
While the sauce is simmering, make the chicken: Set out 2 8-inch square baking dishes. In one dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, and salt. In the other dish, mix the bread crumbs with the Parmesan and mozzarella. Using one hand, coat the chicken in the egg mixture. Gently shake off the excess egg, then transfer to the bread crumb mixture. Use your other hand to coat the chicken evenly on both sides, pressing the breading to adhere. Set on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Set a baking sheet with a wire rack on top nearby. Add 1–2 pieces of chicken to the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook until golden brown on both sides, flipping once, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the cooked chicken on the wire rack to drain. Wipe out the skillet, add more olive oil as needed, and repeat with remaining chicken.
1 ¾ cups grated mozzarella cheese
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
1. Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange half of the chicken in a single layer over the sauce and top with half of the mozzarella. Add another layer of sauce and top with the remaining chicken, followed by the remaining mozzarella. Finish with a layer of sauce and top with the Parmesan.
2. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, 20–30 minutes.
3. Remove the chicken Parmesan from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving. Top with freshly torn basil, if desired, and serve with rigatoni, salad, and Italian bread alongside.
For dessert I am inspired to make a cake and serve it with some fresh fruit and ice cream. I did some research online on Lucy Hayes, wife of Rutherford B. Hayes from Ohio, who became President in 1877. The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums, located at Hayes’ estate called Spiegel Grove, is beautiful and well worth visiting. Lucy loved Angel Food cake, but here is her personal recipe for white cake from the museum’s website.
Lucy Hayes’ White Cake
There is not to be found a better receipt [recipe] for white cake than the following. The cake is mixed contrary to the usual rules of making cake, but it is the best mode of making it fine-grained and delicate.
Ingredients: Whites of six eggs, scant three-quarters of a cupful of butter, one and one-quarter cupfuls of pulverized sugar, two cupfuls of flour, juice of half a lemon, one-quarter of a tea-spoonful of soda.
If soda is used, mix it well with the flour, and pass it through the sieve several times to distribute it equally. Beat the butter to a light cream, and add the flour to it, stirring it in gradually with the ends of the fingers until it is a smooth paste. Beat the whites of the six eggs to a stiff froth, and mix in them the pulverized sugar; now stir the eggs and sugar gradually into the flour and butter, adding also the lemon-juice, and mix it smoothly together with the egg whisk. As soon as it is perfectly smooth, put it into the oven, the heat of which should be rather moderate at first. When done and still hot, spread over it a frosting made with the white of one egg, pulverized sugar and a flavoring of lemon. The frosting is a decided improvement, and, according to the receipt[recipe], only requires a few minutes to prepare.
This cake may be made with one-tea-spoonful of baking-powder, or with prepared flour, or with the one-quarter tea-spoonful of soda and one-half tea-spoonful of cream of tartar, when the essence of lemon should be used instead of the lemon-juice.
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.