After we threw in the napkins on last week's Mega Parma Challenge, sitting around the table moaning and clutching our stomachs, the topic of where we were heading the following week came up. Now bear in mind we had just eaten the majority of this...
So at the time the idea of eating any more chicken - no matter how far in the future it may be, turned our stomachs.
It was decided amongst the table that we were gonna take a week off, to digest, collect ourselves, have a little cry and ponder what decisions we made in our lives that culminated in us attempting to eat 1.5 kilos of chicken. We parted ways and left it at that.
Fast forward to this week - The first Thursday I have had off (while being in Melbourne) for quite some time. I felt lost ... The mega parma was well and truly digested and I was getting that familiar hankering, yet I brushed it aside and headed to my local butcher in North Essendon - Famous for their Chicken Kievs. If I couldn't indulge in my favourite crumbed chicken dish I was swapping it out for my 2nd favourite ... Who doesn't love a good Kiev? Nothing beats the feeling of putting a knife through a freshly cooked kiev and unleashing a river of molten garlic butter through your chips (or rice, or mashed potatoes. Everything goes with Kiev)... I bet you're thinking about having a kiev right now.
As I said, the local butchers, or "North Essendon Gourmet Butchery" has got a bit of a name in the area as the best place to go for your meat. Be it some rissoles for the barbie, a slab of succulent roast pork or the aforementioned chicken kiev - 1083 Mount Alexander Rd is the place to be.
I finished work for the day and stopped off in the shopping strip to grab the kievs, when walking into the butchers a sign on the glass caught my eye...
It was fate. Even when I actively tried to avoid having a parma on a Thursday, the parma found me. It was like "Final Destination" but with pieces of schnitzel.
Well this definitely threw a spanner in the works! I could almost taste the garlic butter on my tongue, yet how could I turn down the promise of an oven ready parma? On parma night no less! I put the kievs on hold and got a parma instead (the last one left, The wife still got her kiev, so she was happy). This unexpected parmage was going to be interesting, thats for sure. We've had Microwave parmas before, we've had take away parmas before, we've even had Lite n' Easy parmas before - But never have we done a raw, oven ready parma from a butcher ... this was unknown territory.
Now at this point it was half past five, I had resigned myself to doing no more cooking than putting the kievs in the oven - maybe boiling some rice. But thats no way to treat a parma, a parma needs sides! Yet... It was 5:30, I was nearly home and was feeling incredibly lazy. Then inspiration struck. The parma is oven ready, why not try to put together a proper parma with only oven ready (or pre-packaged) ingredients? After a quick stop at Coles I was good to go. It was a very close call, but like a phoenix from the ashes parma night had been resurrected!
I got home and had a look at the package the butcher had bagged up -
For perspective that is a large foil tray, if you've ever ordered a parma from your local pizza shop you'd know what size we're talking about. Pretty sizable, and for a moment I thought it might be complete with sides as the container seemed rather heavy. I opened up the box and...
No sides! But still a pretty big parma, much bigger than I thought, although (from what I could see) I was a little concerned about the thickness of the schnitz, it was kindve hard to tell through the napoli and cheese if the foundation was any good. I preheated the oven and set the parma aside.
Now, as for the salad, I went for this...
I considered going all out and getting some coleslaw as well, but after spending $5 on the salad, the cost of the sides with coleslaw would have been more than I paid for the parma. This seemed good enough, I love when I'm at a pub and they put cheese through the salad - so surely this would do the trick.
The oven was pre-heated, I slid the parma in and we were good to go.
Now we play the waiting game.
While we wait, how about a riddle?
A man lives on the twelfth floor of an apartment building. Every morning he takes the elevator down to the lobby and leaves the building. In the evening, he gets into the elevator, and, if there is someone else in the elevator -- or if it was raining that day -- he goes back to his floor directly. Otherwise, he goes to the tenth floor and walks up two flights of stairs to his apartment... Why?
I always loved these lateral thinking puzzles as a kid. I had a book of them and used to relentlessly annoy people around me by constantly quizzing them. I guess I haven't grown out of that yet.
Anyway, give up? The guy is short, he can only reach to the button for number 10, but if there's someone in the elevator with him to ask, or he has his umbrella to push the button, he can reach his floor directly.
Oh look, The parma is done...
Not. too. shabby!
I went with potato gems as an alternative to chips, just for something a bit different! Although the entire time I was preparing them I was thinking to myself "Napoleon, Gimme some of your tots"
I cracked a beer, sat down and tucked in, The schnitz was thicker than I expected, not massively thick, but definitely nothing to complain about. There wasn't any ham, which was a bit of a disappointment, but there was plenty of cheese and napoli to make up for it. The chicken quality was top notch - I was a little worried that they would use the cover of toppings to hide their crappier cuts of chicken as some butchers do, yet this was pure white chicken breast all the way through.
The crumbs were heavily herbed and added a great flavour to the dish (they clearly used the same crumbs that they use on their kievs, as this parma reminded me a lot of a flat kiev covered in napoli and cheese ... although doesn't that sound delicious?)
Yet the crumbs are where we get to this parma's major problem - there were just too many of them. The parma was thick enough, we have had parmas at pubs where the parma was half the thickness of this one, yet the oven ready parma was just so thick with crumbs that it was pretty much all you could taste, the texture of all that crumb overpowered the meal quite a bit.
Other than that its pretty hard to find fault, we have had much, much worse parmas at pubs, for a heftier price tag at that.
The potato gems actually served their purpose well, They went perfectly with the chicken and were a refreshing change - If I went to a pub and they served the parma with a side of tots instead of chips I'd be more than happy.
The salad wasn't fantastic, as expected for a salad from a supermarket fridge. Although the fact that my pile of salad was 40% cheese definitely helped it out a lot, Like I said with the parma - we've had worse.
Now a new feature to Parma Daze reviews - the Pros and Cons list!
- Great quality chicken
- Potato Gems go surprisingly well with a parma
- Plenty of toppings, no nude schnitz in sight
- A damn good parma for $7.95
- Too much crumbing, overpowered the dish.
- A slice of ham would have helped
Out of all the take-away, microwave, or home-cooked parmas we've had, this was by far the best - If you're after a hassle free parma in the comfort of your own home it definitely can't be beat, and for $7.95 its fantastic value (although I spent extra on the sides, so the final price depends on what you want with it). If you live in the Essendon area I recommend giving it a go.
Be aware the oven-ready parmas are only as permanent as the sheet of butcher paper on the window, so no promises that it'll still be there when you arrive - but if we all go and buy them maybe they'll become a regular part of the selection, the fact that I got there at 5:30 and it was the last one left bodes well for their success, I think word must be getting around.
If its a rainy night and all you want to do is stay in, watch the footy finals and maybe impress your significant other with your cooking skills without actually doing anything, then it's definitely worth a try, I'm calling the Pre-packaged parma experiment a success.
And if you want to start kievdaze.com let me know.
Oh one more thing - We now have merch available! A whole range of parma related shirts for your purchasing pleasure, click here to get to our merch section, or click the button up the top. Enjoy!