My husband turned 25
in his dreams yesterday. On birthdays in our family, the birthday person gets to choose the dinner. My teen boys of course always choose to go out to eat because they are too young to realize how much better home cooked food is most of the time My 48 25 year old husband however prefers my cooking. He’s a smart man who knows when sucking up is a good idea So he chose one of his all time favorite meals, Chicken Parmesan. I was really hoping that he would choose Chicken Curry but I guess wanting him to choose one of MY favorite meals isn’t nice huh?
The chicken I thawed out yesterday ended up being spoiled. Don’t you just love when you get meat from a reputable store only to open it up and get a whiff of hell on a Styrofoam tray? Sooooo… he gets his birthday dinner tonight instead.
Chicken Parmesan is one of those dishes that has a rep for being difficult and it’s really not. If you have ever made fried chicken and a side dish to go with it, then you can make this. I mean, what is it really other than fried chicken with an Italian flair with pasta on the side? The only difference is using bread crumbs as well as a flour mix and having to flatten the chicken somewhat. And truthfully, if it’s just for family and you’re not worried about pretty, you don’t really even need to worry about the flattening step. It will still taste fantastic. This is one of those dishes that can be more complex & fancy by using homemade sauce (which I usually do but am not describing here today), fresh mozzarella and basil and flattening out your chicken or using jarred sauce you have doctored up, bagged cheese and just frying the chicken without smooshing the crap out of it. When I make it it is usually a combination of both methods. So here you go; enjoy.
This is the easy version of the classic favorite. It goes from frying pan into the oven to finish which ensures it is completely cooked as well as giving your cheese a nice golden color rather than the pale chewiness you get if you microwave it like some recipes suggest.
- 5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2.5 pounds)
- 2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Italian Medley seasoning (you can use just plain Italian seasoning but the Mrs. Dash has more flavor)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup vegetable oil (you may need more)
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 to 1/2 pounds dried pasta (I use fettuccine because I love it but you can use whatever shape makes you happy )
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 jar spaghetti sauce (again; can use homemade but this is the easy version)
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (I use garlic, basil & oregano flavor)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Basil (I used the tube found in the produce section; it’s about as close to fresh as you can get if you don’t have any)
- 8 ozs shredded Mozzarella cheese (ok, so I use considerably more but I had to give an amount that wouldn’t make people cringe )
- Preheat oven to 350 and line a 13×9 pan with foil.
- In a large bowl, mix together your flour, bread crumbs, Mrs. Dash, 1 tablespoon salt and garlic powder.
- In a smaller bowl, beat together the 3 eggs and 1/2 cup milk.
- Dip your chicken pieces into the milk mixture. Let excess drip off then dip into the flour/crumb mixture. Repeat one more time in each. After each piece has been coated, set aside on a wire rack while you heat oil.
- Pour the oil into a large pan, . You want at least 1/2 an inch of oil so use more than the cup if needed. Add chicken, making sure not to crowd the pan. You can always do a second batch but if you crowd, the chicken steams more than fries. When the oil reaches 300 degrees, (one of the best investments you can make for the kitchen an instant read thermometer. Trust me.) carefully lay your chicken in the pan. Let brown on one side (about 3 to 5 minutes) then carefully flip it to the other side to brown. Use tongs or a plastic spatula for this if you can because the coating is more delicate than a pure flour one would be and will fall off easily if pierced. Let brown on the other side (again, about 3 to 5 minutes) then transfer to the foil lined pan and put into the 350 degree oven to finish cooking.
- While the chicken finishes cooking, start your sauce and your pasta. In a medium sauce pot, combine the jar of spaghetti sauce, the sugar, the can of diced tomatoes and the fresh basil. Heat to boiling, stirring frequently then turn heat down and let sauce gently simmer. Just before serving it, stir in 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan.
- Cook pasta according to package directions using a tablespoon of salt in the water..
- When the internal temp of the chicken is 155 degrees f, top with the rest of the grated Parmesan and the shredded Mozzarella. Finish cooking until the internal temp of the chicken is 165 degrees F.
- Top a serving of pasta with some sauce. Do the same with the chicken. Eat until you are ready to burst. This serves five to seven hungry people or two teenage boys, one grown man and a not so hungry mom and toddler.