Monday, December 14, 2009

Chicken parmesan

I don't make this dish nearly as often as I should. It's the kind of meal that has everything going for it. It's easy. It's delicious. My husband and son love it. And it's the sort of thing that works well for company. A green salad, a little pasta, a bottle of Chianti—perfection!

Here's what you need for about 4-6 servings:

1 package of thin-sliced boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, lightly beaten
bread crumbs

For the sauce:
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
garlic to taste
Fresh or dried basil

sliced or shredded mozzarella cheese

(Sorry not to give you exact amounts here, but so much of this can/should be done to taste.)

After you rinse and dry the cutlets, dip them in the egg and then dredge in breadcrumbs. Place the cutlets on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan (if your pan is not non-stick, you may want to spray a little Pam on there, or use a sheet of parchment paper to prevent sticking).

Now, here's where we can enter a debate about frying or baking. Frying is outrageously delicious, no doubt about it. But baking is perfectly fine and usually my choice for a couple reasons: it's healthier and easier. I typically bake the cutlets in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Toward the end of the baking time, I drizzle the cutlets with olive oil and switch the oven to broil for a minute or two.

While the cutlets are cooking, make the sauce:

Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a heavy pan and saute the onion. When the onion is translucent and soft, add the can of crushed tomatoes and season with basil, garlic, salt and pepper. (If you like oregano, toss some of that in there too.)


Heat through, and then let the sauce simmer while the cutlets cook. This is an easy sauce, one that cooks quickly (and certainly don't be afraid to substitute your own recipe for marinara sauce—you can use fresh tomatoes or open a jar, you'll get a good result either way.)

Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with a little sauce. Layer the chicken on top. You can make a single layer or overlap, depending on the size of the pan and the number of cutlets you have. Top with more sauce (and again, use as much or as little as you like. The beauty of this dish is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. Lottsa sauce? Great. Easy on the sauce? Okay too.)

Ditto for the cheese. A thin slice on top of each cutlet or heaping handfuls of shredded cheese—whatever you like.

Now put the whole thing back in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.

Serve with hot spaghetti (be sure to reserve some sauce for the pasta!), a salad, Italian bread—and wine.


  1. We make our marinara very similarly. It's so good that way - beats the jarred stuff.

    Ever since going GF I've had to forego oven-baking chicken (with a coating) as the breading is more flour-like than crumbly - and it just doesn't do as well in the oven.

    Before special dieting entered our life -this was a frequent meal. I make it now, not as often, and without cheese. Believe it not not, it's still pretty good (although I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the cheese).

  2. Mmm. I really miss this dish in my veggie lifestyle. Wish it tasted the same with seitan ;)

  3. @goodfountain Have you tried making more coarse bread crumbs by hand-crumbling (vs. blender/processor)? I'd be curious if coarser GF breading would work better.

    @leightongirl What about eggplant and portabellos instead? Breading seitan seems, somehow, redundant. ;-)

  4. Ooh, Kristen, thanks for reminding me I hadn't made this yet this fall. Yum!

  5. What I like about this is I could make it even for my cheese-haters (Baroy and Em) at the same time as my cheese-lovers (me and N) just by putting slices on some, and not on others. Great idea!

  6. I have never made this but have all the ingredients on hand - dinner tonight! Thanks!