Baked chicken parmesan: healthier, crispier, and more delicious than pan-fried!
This past weekend Taylor and I took a trip to Cancun, Mexico for our one year anniversary. What does this have to do with baked chicken parmesan you ask? Just wait. We got this amazing deal at an all-inclusive resort so needless to say we were beyond excited to take a long weekend away from work and school.
Despite his shirt, we do not, in fact, attend Georgia Tech for grad school 😛 But ok, back to the story. The resort was freakin’ GORGEOUS.
Our room was swim-up, so i spent three days straight in the pool with a pina colada in one hand and a book in the other.
It was true paradise, except for one thing: the food! I’m not a complainer by nature. Never have I ever written a yelp review complaining about service or quality. However, I am an obsessed foodie and this was practically inedible. Taylor, who is a little pickier than me, and who is also fed home cooked meals every night, didn’t eat more than one bite for three days. I felt so bad. We spent dinners each night fantasizing about all the delicious food I would make this week and laughing our butts off when the “lasagna” we were served was a frozen burrito covered in sauce.
So, here’s the moral of my story: this week is going to be full of our favorite comfort food. Chicken parmesan, pot roast, you name it.
Chicken parmesan is a frequent menu item in our house. Have you ever met a meat eater that doesn’t like chicken parm? Didn’t think so. Can you even think about chicken parm without singing the Peyton Manning commercial, “Chicken parm you taste so good”? Nope.
My baked chicken parmesan is crispy, flavorful, and so easy.
Since our tastebuds were traumatized all weekend, I splurged a little on the ingredients.
Fresh pasta and spicy, small-batch marinara sauce. Yessssssss.
You can, of course, use any pasta and sauce you like! I will say, the fact the fresh pasta cooks in only 3 minutes is a huge bonus.
First things first: brine your chicken!
Let your chicken soak in warm salt water for 15 minutes. This keeps it juicy during the cooking process, and also brings it to room temperature.
Make sure you dry it off with paper towels before the next step!
Do the three step dredge.
Assemble your holy trinity of flour, egg, and breadcrumbs. Make sure you’re seasoning each one!! Layers of flavor people, layers of flavor. I like to add salt, pepper, and lemon zest to the flour, salt and pepper to the beat eggs, and salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to the panko breadcrumbs.
Dunk each (dried off!) chicken breast in flour first, shaking off the excess, then eggs, and finally the breadcrumbs. Press down in the breadcrumbs to make sure it’s coated all over, and place the chicken breasts on a coated baking sheet.
Pop those cuties in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, start water for your pasta, and cook it about a minute or two under what the box recommends. Heat 2/3 of a jar of pasta sauce in a large saucepan, and finish cooking the pasta in the sauce for it’s last two minutes.
When the chicken is done, take it out of the oven and spread 2-3 tablespoons of marinara on each breast, and top with mozzarella cheese.
Pop them back in the oven for 5 minutes under the broiler.
Oh yeah. Finally, chiffonade some basil by first stacking the basil leaves…
Then rolling them up like a cigarette…
Then slicing them thinly into little ribbons.
Assemble and top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and a fat glass of red wine. Because duh 🙂
- 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup flour, (I used all-purpose, but whole wheat would be healthier!)
- Zest of one lemon
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 package pasta, preferably long noodles like fettuccine or spaghetti
- 1 jar of your favorite marinara, (or homemade sauce!). I like spicy arrabbiata sauce.
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- Fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese for serving
- Heat an oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil coated with non-stick spray.
- Slice two chicken breasts horizontally to create four, thinner chicken breasts about ¼" to ½" thick, or pound chicken to desired thinness and slice into four equal portions.
- Brine the chicken by placing the breasts in a large bowl and covering them with warm water. Season the water with a tablespoon of salt. After 15 minutes, dry the chicken breasts completely with paper towels.
- On a small plate, combine the flour with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and the zest of one lemon. Stir to combine.
- In a medium bowl, crack and whisk 2 eggs and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- On another small plate, combine the panko breadcrumbs with a teaspoon each of salt, pepper, and dried Italian seasoning.
- One breast at a time, completely coat the chicken in the flour first, shaking off the excess, then the egg wash, and finally the breadcrumbs. Press the chicken into the breadcrumbs to make sure they stick. Place each coated breast on the baking sheet, and cook for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil salted water in a pot and cook your pasta for 2 minutes less than the package instructions suggest.
- In a large skillet, warm ⅔ a jar of pasta sauce until it comes to a simmer. Finish cooking the pasta for 2 minutes in the sauce to coat.
- When the chicken is done, top each breast with more sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. Place in the oven for 5 more minutes, (turning on the broiler would make the cheese nice and golden!)
- Serve the chicken with the pasta, and top with freshly chopped basil and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
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