Kevin Mazur/Getty; Courtesy Jessica Seinfeld
When you’re Jerry Seinfeld turning 60, you could celebrate your birthday eve at any restaurant in the world. But the legendary funnyman chose to spend the night at home, enjoying wife Jessica Seinfeld’s classic chicken parmesan and coconut lemon cake.
Of course, staying in is that much more delicious when your spouse is a three-time cookbook author and the recipe has a sweet story behind it. Jessica told PEOPLE that she impressed Jerry by making chicken parm on their first date. “He was like, ‘You wanna go out to dinner?’ I was like, ‘No I’ll cook,’ and he was shocked by that. It was fascinating to him,” she said in a recent exclusive interview.
On Monday night, Jessica posted this shot of the recipe’s individual ingredients to Instagram, with the following caption: “Still Life of Husband’s 60th Birthday Meal Without The Raw Chicken Because I Knew People Would Complain.”
We snagged the chicken parmesan recipe from The Can’t Cook Book, Jessica’s latest collection of recipes. In this traditional version, crispy fried chicken breasts get smothered in cheese and marinara sauce and baked for 15 minutes. Jessica has had a long time to perfect these cutlets: She’s been making them since she was 17.
For the top of the coconut lemon cake, it looks like Jessica used edible rice wafer paper to craft a handwritten message from the entire family. Along with the names of the couple’s three children (Sascha, 13, Julian, 11, and Shepherd, 8), she added a shout-out to the family’s two dachshunds, Jose and Foxy Brown.
Whether or not it’s his birthday, it sounds like Jessica has given her husband the best gift of all: The chance to eat delicious, home-cooked food on a daily basis. As she told USA Today, “[Jerry] grew up having cereal for dinner every night. His mom tried to feed him well, but I don’t think he wanted anything to do with it.”
4 chicken cutlets
¼ cup whole wheat flour
2 large eggs
3/4 cup dried bread crumbs
3 tbsp. grated parmesan
¾ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
Marinara sauce (recipe below)
Grated parmesan, to taste
Shredded or sliced mozarella cheese, to taste
1. Space the cutlets 2-inches apart on the cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder or a rolling pin, pound to an even 1/4-inch thickness.
2. Set up your breading station: Get out 3 dinner plates and 1 shallow bowl. Place the flour in one plate. In the shallow bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. On the second plate, combine the bread crumbs, parmesan, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Place a clean plate nearby for the breaded cutlets.
3. Using one hand, dip each cutlet in the flour, then in the beaten egg. Let the excess egg drop off before finally dipping in the bread crumb mixture, pressing to help it adhere. Place the cutlets on the clean plate.
4. Place your large skillet on the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Measure and pour 3 tbsp. of the oil and heat until it shimmers (1 to 2 minutes). Using tongs, add 2 of the cutlets (they should sizzle) and cook 3-4 minutes, until the undersides are golden brown. Flick them and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes more.
5. Transfer the crisp chicken to a baking dish, cover with marinara (recipe below), top with grated parmesan and mozzarella. Bake for 15 minutes; serve immediately.
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1. Place a large saucepan on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Measure and put in the oil and heat until simmering (1 to 2 minutes). Scoop up the chopped garlic with your knife and add to the pot. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until light golden brown, about 1 minute.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tomatoes. Then stir in the salt, red pepper and black pepper (12 turns on a pepper mill). Return to heat and let come to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer (low boil), stirring often, for 15 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick and starts to sputter, add up to ½ cup water for desired consistency.