Saturday, December 1, 2012

Easy Baked Chicken Parmesan

 Did you ever see the movie, "The Big Night"?  It's about an Italian immigrant that opens a restaurant in the USA.  He wants to serve very authentic dishes to his customers, but they come expecting the traditional Italian-American restaurant dishes that ALWAYS come with a "side order of spaghetti".  One diner insists on the "side order" with his risotto, which sends the purist chef / owner into a rage and so moves the plot forward (I won't ruin it for you-- watch it sometime-- it's really good!).  Anyway, another Italian-American favorite that usually comes with a "side order of spaghetti-- which I LOVE by the way- I'm no purist!) is Chicken Parmesan!  BUT, I promise your family won't miss the pasta with this yummy version, especially if you have some good bread with it!
Like a lot of Italian dishes, Chicken Parmesan is a favorite of all ages.  Children and adults love the cheesy, saucy, crispiness of this lovely dish.  It hits all the "likes" for most tastes.  
The traditional recipe for Chicken Parmesan is time consuming and heavy in calories:  pound out filets, bread and saute them, etc., etc.  This is my adaptation of a recipe for a baked version that is just as delicious, but baking the chicken and splitting the chicken breasts instead of the pounding and pan sauteeing makes this version much easier and even lighter!  You'll still get all the goodness of the crisp exterior, tender chicken, and the cheese / sauce.  Another nice thing is you can get all the "parts" necessary together ahead of time, then just assemble and bake when you're ready.  This makes it great for entertaining!  Also, I always use a jarred  tomato-basil marinara sauce for this recipe.  It tastes great and what's the use of an "easy" recipe if part of it involves spending hours making one of the components!?  Serve with foccacia bread (previous post -- or buy it!) and a green salad.  That's amore and your own "Big Night" at your house!  Ha!

Easy Baked Chicken Parmesan(serves 6)
1.5 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 Tbl. olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup flour
1.5 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper
3 egg whites
1 Tbl. water
3 rather large chicken breast halves (boneless, skinless, and partially frozen if possible)
1 jar marinara sauce (you won't use all of it-- use the rest for a pizza!)
1.5 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Spray a baking rack with PAM and put it on a sheet pan.  If you don't have one, you can line a sheet pan with a piece of aluminum foil that has been crumpled up, then un-crumpled and sprayed with PAM.  This won't work as well, but it will work.  
Mix the Panko and the olive oil in a frying pan and toast the breadcrumbs, stirring all the while, until they are golden brown.  Set the pan off the heat and allow the crumbs to cool, then mix in the Parmesan cheese. 
Mix the flour, garlic powder, 1 Tbl. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a shallow dish.  Set aside.
Mix the egg whites and water with a fork in another dish.  Set aside.
Halve the chicken breasts horizontally.  Do this by starting at the thick end of the breast and moving your thin, sharp knife through the breast in a sawing motion.  This is a lot easier if the breasts are still partially frozen.  Hold your hand on top of the breast to steady it as you cut, but be careful!  If it doesn't go exactly right-- don't worry!  It will look and taste fine.  You can even just cut them in two cross-wise, then cut only the thick pieces horizontally.  If you do this, they will bake about 5 minutes quicker.  Sprinkle the breasts with salt and pepper.
Now dip a breast into the flour mixture, shaking off the excess.  Then dip into the egg mixture, then into the panko-cheese mixture.  Turn and press the cheese-panko mixture all over the breast.  Put it on the baking rack and repeat with all the chicken.  Spray the tops of the chicken breasts with a light coating of PAM.
Bake for about 20 minutes (little more or less, depending on how frozen the breasts were).  You can cut one open discreetly to check; the meat should not be pink in the center.  Remove the chicken and top each one with a generous amount of marinara sauce and a mound of mozzarella cheese.  Put back into the oven for another 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and everything looks scrumptious!  
Use a spatula to remove the breasts and serve!


1 comment:

  1. I'm definitely going to try this soon - chicken parm is one of Miles's favorite meals!