Elevating Everyday Recipes from my Kitchen to yours
Chicken Parmesan is the ultimate classic comfort food and everyone has their own version…this is mine. Now to the inspiration for my Chicken Parm. I am not necessarily a huge fan of NFL football, however, during the season, it’s usually on at our house. To me, this is also known as “background noise”…sorry, but it’s true. Last year, after hearing months of Peyton Manning hum “Chicken Parm, you taste so good” during the Nationwide Insurance commercials, I was moved on more than one occasion to whip up a batch for the family. There are many reasons I like preparing it this way, the panko makes the chicken so crispy and the homemade sauce makes all the difference in flavor. If you were running short on time, this is where you could take a shortcut and use a jar of store bought. However, making homemade marinara is so easy, to me it’s worth the extra step….we’re thinking “elevated” here. Once you have a really good homemade sauce, it’s hard to go back to store bought. Chicken Parm is a big indulgence but it’s so worth it! Everything in moderation, right?
When there's a certain jingle played during the football season that you can't get out of your head, all you can do is make Chicken Parm. Crispy, juicy chicken nestled in a bed of pasta and marinara. Comfort food at it's ultimate!
First things first, let's get the sauce going...the longer you cook it, flavors will develop more deeply. Prepare your ingredients by chopping everything up so you're ready. Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat, add EVOO. Add diced onion and cook until softened, not browned, about 10 minutes. Add minced garlic and stir. Add red wine to deglaze the pot, simmer until reduced by about half. This should take about 10-15 minutes. Add (2) 28 oz. cans of San Marzano Tomatoes, hand crush and add their juices. It's a messy job but someone has to do it! Add the sugar, red chili flakes, salt and pepper. Simmer at least 30 minutes, then add half the chopped parsley and basil, about 1 TBS. of each, reserve the rest. Continue to simmer, if it gets reduced to low, you can add a little water and continue to simmer, it will only intensify flavors. Preheat oven to 450F.
Place chicken breasts in a large ziplock and seal, add one at ta time and pound with a flat sided mallet until about 1/2" thick. If you don't have a meat mallet, you can use a rolling pin. Salt and pepper both sides.
Next dredge chicken breasts in a 3-part station of flour, eggs (whisked with 1 TBS. water) and Panko. I like to mix in a little parmesan to the Panko (2TBS.) Always remember FEB like the month when breading...flour, eggs, then breadcrumbs.
Heat a saute pan over medium low heat with olive oil and 1 TBS. butter. Don't heat your pan too hot or too smoking, the chicken will burn before it has a chance to get a nice golden crust. Cook chicken over medium low for 2 minutes each side. Be careful not to crowd the pan, work in batches.
Prepare a few baking dishes, once you pound the chicken thin, it takes up more room, so you will probably need 2. Scoop half of the marinara sauce to coat the bottom of each baking dish, it should be about 3/4" deep. Nestle the chicken breasts on top of the sauce so that tops are still exposed.
Add a pinch of your reserved fresh basil, a thin slice of the mozzarella, a sprinkle of Parmesan and a drizzle of EVOO.
At this point, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente, about 2 minutes less than the directions say.
Bake chicken on the top rack at 450F for 5 minutes, then switch your oven over to broil and broil for an additional 2 minutes util cheese is melted and bubbly. I love to prepare it this way because the chicken remains crispy.
Time to plate! Add the pasta to the plate, scoop a large scoop of sauce, place a piece of chicken on top and nestle it right into the sauce. Complete it with sprinkle of Parmesan, the remaining reserved fresh basil and parsley and dinner is served!