Even though this is a classic dish, much loved by seemingly everyone in the food industry, I had never tasted Chicken Parm until last night. Based on its appearance alone, never was I tempted to order it in restaurants. Seeing plates of breaded chicken swimming in tomato sauce flying past our table did little to pique my interest in trying it.
The other day, when a Chicken Parm recipe showed up in my news feed, I finally decided to see what all the fuss is about and actually took the time to read it. As a bonus, the video included in the link made it look pretty easy to put together. It seemed the perfect dish to serve to friends last night.
Be warned, it will take the full 1 hour and 40 minutes, but the sauce and breading can be done before hand. So, if you want to spend time with your guests, instead of hiding behind your stove, make the sauce and bread the breasts in advance. Then, about half an hour they arrive, preheat your oven, warm up that sauce and start frying the breasts. You will be popping them into the oven just as your doorbell rings. Let it bake while you enjoy appy’s with your friends. Once it comes out of the oven it can rest for up to half an hour before serving.
This recipe serves 6 with enough sauce for everyone.
And the moral to this story is not to judge a dish on its appearance alone.
2 Tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
One 6 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
One 4-inch Parmesan rind (or 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
The Chicken Parmesan
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup flour
3 eggs, beaten
6 medium chicken breasts (boneless & skinless)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 Tablespoons (plus more) canola oil
12 thin slices mozzarella
500 grams spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Make the tomato sauce:
In a medium saucepan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, cook 5 minutes, then add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 8 to 10 minutes more.
Add the tomatoes, basil, vinegar, sugar and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up whole tomatoes with back of spoon, until slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.
Remove from heat, discard the Parmesan rind and, using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until mostly smooth but still retaining some texture. (See Cooks Notes 1 )
Season with salt and pepper to taste. (See Cooks Notes 2 )
Make the Chicken Parmesan
In a medium bowl, whisk together the panko bread crumbs with 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan and the dried oregano.
Place the flour on another plate and the beaten eggs in yet another shallow dish (like a pie plate). Line up the 3 dishes next to each other in this order:
Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. One by one, dredge the chicken breasts in flour, followed by egg and then panko, making sure to completely coat each breast. Press a little bit to be sure the coating sticks. Place chicken breasts flat on a plate until ready to fry. (See Cooks Notes 3 )
Preheat the oven to 375° and spread half of the tomato sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then set aside.
In a 12-inch skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken breasts, turning once, until golden brown, 5 – 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to the prepared pan, nestling them into the tomato sauce. Spoon the remaining half of the tomato sauce over the middle of each breast. DO NOT completely cover all of the breasts with tomato sauce. Put 2 slices of mozzarella over the sauce on each breast and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top.
Bake until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on size. If you have an oven-safe thermometer, now is a great time to use it.
Garnish with basil and serve over plain spaghetti tossed with a little olive oil.
- If you don’t have an immersion blender, let mixture cool and puree in food processor or blender
- Sauce can be made 3 days in advance, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to use. Rewarm sauce before continuing.
- I breaded the breasts 2 hours in advance, covered loosely with plastic and refrigerated. Maybe it will work if it sits even longer, but the breadcrumbs might get too soggy. If anyone tries, let me know.