When I cook a classic entree, you know I'm bound to stray and give you some tasty cheap$kate shortcuts and recipe improvements? My Chicken Parmesan recipe video below does all that.
Italian-style Chicken Parmesan is a sauteed, breaded chicken fillet that's covered in Marinara Sauce and topped with parmesan and mozzarella cheese, then baked. It's decadent and delicious.
This is a two part recipe. First you make a Marinara Sauce with tomato, onion, garlic and herbs. Of course, you can take a shortcut and use any favorite jars or cans of store-bought pasta sauce.
Secondly, you coat a boneless and skinless chicken fillet in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, and saute it until golden brown. Then you move the cooked chicken into a baking pan and add the Marinara Sauce and cheeses, and bake until piping hot. There's a small amount of assembly to do, but it's well worth it.
It's a problem I find when ordering Tonkatsu (breaded chicken or pork cutlets) at a Japanese restaurant, or Mexican Torta Milanese sandwiches (flour-coated thin sliced beef or chicken) - dry and chewy overcooked meat. I mean it's okay, but not something I order often. I guess it's a cheap way to make a small cut of meat look larger?
Now, I'm all for tradition, but this one doesn't fly with me. Why not just leave the chicken fillet alone - it will stay moist when thick, and especially so, when dark meat is used. Of course you can use white meat, as it's easier to remove from the bone. (And, if you want to pound the chicken fillet between sheets of plastic, then go for it.)
I guess if you flash-fry a pounded-thin breaded piece of meat then it may remain moist, but it becomes easier to burn the coating over a very high heat, and you have to watch it too closely. So I like to keep things easy and simple.
The one thing you may not have on hand is breadcrumbs. You only need a cup and you can cover 3 pieces with this recipe. I always find a container of breadcrumbs at my local 99c only Stores. They even sometimes carry expensive Panko. You can use any you find cheaply, or make your own. Just scroll down to Hindsight, at the end of this post, for my Homemade Breadcrumbs recipe.
Chicken is cheap out here is Los Angeles, especially in Latin grocery stores. Boneless and skinless dark meat is often on sale there, and even white meat with the skin and bone is around a dollar per pound on sale.
I also include an easy to make Marinara Sauce recipe in my video using canned tomato as the base. Of course, canned tomatoes are cheap almost anywhere. You can use any you find on sale. If they are whole tomatoes, then break them up when cooking - you'll have a "rustic" Marinara Sauce.
I also use fresh garden herbs, but you can substitute dried Italian herbs. You can even buy your favorite premade sauce and just use that. (My Easy Marinara Sauce recipe is a stand-alone video blog post you can checkout here - use it with any favorite pasta recipe.)
And this recipe is wife approved. I turned my back for a minute and one of my finished Chicken Parmesan went missing! Oh well, that's why I made three breaded cutlets for this recipe.
Do give my recipe a try. It's luscious with melted cheese and a rich tomato sauce. Go ahead and serve it with your favorite pasta and extra leftover Marinara Sauce, it's one filling Italian entree, that's cheap to do, if you do it my way.
Chicken Parmesan - VIDEO
Play it here, video runs 6 minutes, 7 seconds.
My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.
Breaded Chicken Ingredients -3 servings
3 pieces chicken - skinless and boneless. I used leg and thigh meat. Okay to use white meat. Usually recipe calls for chicken breast that is pounded flat. I find it dries out too easily, so I skip the "flattening" part.
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup bread crumbs - my homemade breadcrumb recipe is down below under "Hindsight."
1 egg - mixed with a fork or whisk.
3 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese - dried or fresh shaved. You can use as much as you like.
3 ounces of Mozzarella Cheese - add more to your liking. I used a small package of shredded.
1/2 teaspoon black pepper - to season breadcrumbs. Okay to add any favorite seasonings or dried herbs. I don't use salt in this recipes, as I find the cheeses have enough for me.
Oil for sauteing breaded chicken pieces - I add a couple of tablespoons per chicken piece. Add more as needed.
Marinara Sauce Ingredients
1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce - any favorite brand, even from a jar.
1/2 onion - chopped. White or yellow is okay.
1 teaspoon garlic - chopped fresh or from a jar.
1 cup water - to clean out the tomato can, and add it to sauce. Okay to use red or white wine, or a favorite broth.
Italian herbs - about 1 teaspoon dried, or 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped. I used basil, oregano and parsley. Okay to use a dried herb Italian premix, or any combination of dried herbs you have on hand.
1 tablespoon oil - for frying onion and garlic.
Pepper to taste - Canned tomato sauce has a lot of salt, so I don't add any, but you can add some if you want.
Directions for Marinara Sauce
I start this recipe with a Marinara Sauce. I used a plain can of tomato sauce and added some sauteed onion, garlic and herbs. Here's how I did it.(You can use any store bought type you like as a short cut -- if you do, go right to my Breading Chicken directions further below.)
First saute 1/2 chopped onion in a tablespoon of oil over a medium heat. Cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add chopped garlic and saute another minute.
Pour in a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce. Slosh around half a can of water (broth or wine) and add it to the pan with sauce and sauteed veggies. Mix well and finally add the herbs, fresh or dried.
Cook tomato sauce on low, while you are frying up the breaded chicken pieces. You just need to cook the pasta sauce for another 10 minutes, so all the flavors combine. This basic Marinara Sauce can used for any pasta recipe, or pizza topping.
Directions for Breading Chicken (3 pieces)
This is where my recipe veers off from others. Typical Chicken Parmesan recipes take a chicken breast and pound it thin. While this is traditional, you often end up with a dried out piece of breaded chicken.
As I mentioned above, the main problem is browning the coated chicken thin pieces. To get a golden brown breaded chicken you have to overcook it.
For my recipe I just leave the boneless and skinless pieces alone. They may be thick, but at least they will end up moist on the serving plate. (Of course, you can place the chicken pieces between plastic wrap and pound them a little thinner.)
Let's move on to the breaded chicken part.
You want to have 2 plates, one for the flour and the other for breadcrumbs. Sprinkle on black pepper or any favorite seasonings into the breadcrumbs.
In a shallow bowl add one egg and beat it with a fork, or a whisk, to blend it.
First coat a chicken piece in flour, both sides. Add coated chicken to egg wash and coat it again. Finally press chicken into breadcrumbs. Turn over and press on more breadcrumbs. Set aside.
Add cooking oil in a frying pan over medium/high heat. Depending on your frying pan size you can saute each coated chicken piece separately or bunch up a few pieces.
You need at least 2 tablespoons of oil per chicken piece - add more oil as needed, during frying process. Make sure the pan is hot when you add the chicken, or the breading may stick to the pan.
Add coated chicken to a medium hot pan. Let it set there for a minute so cooked shell forms underneath chicken. After a minute or so you can start checking to see how browning is going. It takes about 3-5 minutes on each side, for chicken to brown nicely and the meat to cook through.
When done set aside each fillet. (Make a small slice into thickest part of cooked chicken to make sure there is no pink meat or pink juices.) I put cooked pieces on a wire rack; I find napkins get too damp and make the cooked crust soggy. After the chicken pieces are done, it's time to bring it all together.
(If you want some pasta with the Chicken Parmesan, then get it going when you start frying the last coated chicken piece. Follow package directions. Set aside pasta when done. You can serve it with some leftover Marinara Sauce.)
The Marinara Sauce should be room temperature or hot when assembling Chicken Parmesan.
First, move fried chicken to a baking dish. Top each piece with some Marinara Sauce. You can add as little, or as much, as you like. I add just enough to cover each chicken piece. (Any extra sauce can be added to the plate later or used as pasta topping.)
Now add the parmesan and mozzarella cheese to each chicken piece. Add as much cheese, as you like -- you can also add extra Marinara Sauce.
Add baking dish of Chicken Parmesan to a 375 degree oven. You just need to bake the chicken until the cheese melts. I baked mine for about 10-15 minutes.
It's ready when Chicken Parmesan cheese topping is melted. You can serve Chicken Parmesan with your favorite pasta and leftover Marinara Sauce.
To make your own dried breadcrumbs, bake a few slices of white or wheat bread in a 350 degree oven for about 15 - 20 minutes until dried out. Check during the last five minutes to make sure the bread does not burn. Turn the bread slice over, half way through baking.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes; then add to a blender or food processor. (Or place in a plastic bag and crumble with a rolling pin, wine bottle or large glass). Pulse slices until fine like sea salt. Leftover bread crumbs store in the refrigerator for a long time. May need to microwave for a minute when reusing, or give them a quick saute in a warm pan.
For extra flavor season the bread slices with salt, pepper, dried parmesan, and any favorite fresh or dried herbs.
And, here's a Dean Martin a crooning "That's Amore"