Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chicken Parmesan

One of my favorite go-to dishes when I was little, and visiting an Italian restaurant, was Chicken Parmesan. Perhaps because it's fried or perhaps because it's smothered in tomato sauce and cheese. Either way it's so yummy and comforting. To this day it's still one of my go-to dishes when visiting Olive Garden or Carrabas. One day, I thought I would try making it myself. However, I went with a cooking light version that while is very good it isn't the make-your-mouth-water because you know you are eating something so very bad for you. So, off I went in the vast expanse of the internet searching for that so-not-good-for-you Chicken Parmesan recipe. I found it on where else but the Food Network's website. It's really rather simple to make and boy is it good. I think I even prefer this version to most restaurant's. Seriously, give it a go and you won't be disappointed.

A couple notes:
I don't believe I've tried the Quick Marinara but I'm sure it's tasty. I just use one of my favorite jars of spaghetti sauce. I cut the recipe in half since I usually only cook for myself these days. Also, I use Italian Bread crumbs but I still add the thyme and oregano. I don't use fresh mozzarella but just the shredded packaged version. And, I serve mine with spagetti.

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons whole milk
Vegetable oil, for frying
Olive oil, as needed
7 cups Quick Marinara Sauce, recipe follows
2/3 cup grated Parmesan, divided
1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pour about a half cup of your tomato sauce into a baking dish and spread around. First thing you do is place each chicken in plastic wrap and pound them until they're thin...about 1/3 inch. In a large bowl, I stir together the 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, bread crumbs, oregano, thyme, and dash of black pepper.

Next, I placed the flour on a large plate. And, in another bowl, I whisk the egg and milk together. Place some oil in a skillet (enough to coat the chicken but not cover the chicken in oil...about a 1/3 of an inch of oil) turn to about medium-high heat. Normally, I put a little bit of water on my fingers and fling it into the oil pan to see if it sizzles. Perhaps not the best way to test the oil but it works for me. Otherwise if you have a thermometer make sure it's around 400 degrees.

Next, dredge a chicken breast in the flour and shake off excess. Then I dipped it into the egg mixture and finally dredge in the seasoned breadcrumb mixture. Shake off any excess breading and then I placed it in the skillet pan. I fry until it's a nice golden brown color and then place the chicken on a paper towel. I repeat the above steps with the next chicken. Once I complete the frying process I place both pieces of chicken in the prepared baking dish and pour spaghetti sauce over the chicken and then the cheese. Place in the 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until cheese is completely melted. While the chicken is cooking, this would be a good time to start boiling your spaghetti noodles.

Quick Marinara Sauce:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
7 cups whole, peeled, canned tomatoes in puree (about 2 (28-ounce cans), roughly chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

First you heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Next saute the onion, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Stir until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Then you add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the salt and season with pepper, to taste. At this point feel free to add any fresh herbs you may have growing in your garden; basil, mint, etc. Pour into the baking dish or store in a tight container.

You can get the recipe here.

(Click here for printable recipe)

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