Thursday, April 16, 2015

Baked Chicken Parmesan

Baked Chicken Parmesan @ menumusings.com
Earlier this week, I was seriously craving some chicken parmesan!  The dilemma was that I didn't really want the whole fried version.  I was looking for something just as yummy, just... healthier.  I mean let's face it, bathing suit season will be here before we blink, right?  Yikes!  Not only that.  I really want to be the healthiest "me" I can be for my kiddos.  I DO believe in all things moderation, so I'm not about to cut OUT any of the food groups.  But this time, let's see if we can tweak this one to make a baked, not fried, version.  That's all.  Who's in?  :)

My main objective was FLAVOR!  So I made sure to have a super flavorful coating.  And then I wanted them to cook quickly once we had the whole set-up.  The verdict?  SCORE!!!  Flavorful, tender, and they cooked up so quickly!  And yep, I'll try to identify some "make ahead" components so you can get dinner on the table in a flash on a busy weeknight, although this was really nice enough to serve to company! 


Baked Chicken Parmesan for Pinterest @ menumusings.comIngredients: 
  • 1.5 pounds thin cut chicken cutlets
  • 1/2 c Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c seasoned Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 c freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • butter flavored cooking spray
  • canned/jarred marinara sauce
  • low fat shredded mozzarella cheese
  • extra sprinkling of dried basil as garnish 
Step-by-Step:
Go ahead and get the oven preheating to about 400 degrees F.

We are going to start out by making a really flavorful coating.  
*Time saving tip - This coating can be all made up ahead of time and stored in a zip top bag.  

I am mixing regular bread crumbs with Panko bread crumbs to get an extra crunch.  The Panko bread crumbs will give us that extra textural component.
1/2 c Panko bread crumbs + 1/2 c seasoned Italian bread crumbs
Now let's season it up really well!

1 tsp kosher salt + 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder + 1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano + 1 tsp dried basil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano (This is a KEY component! Please don't use the fake stuff in the green can.  Your recipe is only as good as your ingredients.)
Okay.  Now let's prepare the chicken.
*Time saving tip - The chicken can be trimmed of any fat and pounded thin ahead of time and stored in the fridge between sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper in a gallon sized zip top bag.  When you get home from work, just take them out and you are ready to go!

Here are our thin cut chicken cutlets.  They come like this, as if the grocer has cut them in half.  They are still WAY more than a normal portion, if you ask me. But as you can see, there are still areas that are way thicker or thinner than the rest.  This will lead to uneven cooking.  So we need to even this out.
Take a sheet of plastic wrap and something heavy.  Pound out the chicken to an even thickness.  We want the chicken to cook at the SAME rate without being over- or under- cooked.  This also serves an additional benefit of helping to tenderize the meat.  If you don't have a meat pounder, you can use:  a small skillet, a wine/beer bottle, a rolling pin, the bottom of a heavy glass... you get the idea.
TaDAA... not hard at all.
Okay, we need something for the coating to stick to.  I'm going to make a mixture here.  The butter will help everything brown up and taste great.  The olive oil is heart friendly.  
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Paint the butter/EVOO mixture on to the flattened chicken breasts.
Press the oiled side down into the coating.  Paint the top side once you have it sitting in the coating. Find a cute little sous chef to help you cover, and press - press - PRESS!!!!! You want the coating to really be pressed on to the chicken really well. 

Can you BELIEVE that four of these took up the entire pan?!  How ridiculous is this?!  I set them on parchment paper for super easy cleanup.  That means they 1 - won't stick, and 2 - I won't have to add anything to the pan (like additional oil) to make sure they won't stick, and 3 - I can just throw the paper away and basically have a clean pan.  WooHoo!!!!  
I am going to insert my instant read thermometer into one of these because I want to make sure I don't overcook them.  I can tell they won't take long because we pounded them out and they aren't that thick.  Overcooked = dry and yucky.  We don't want that!
At the last minute, I decided to spray them with a butter flavored cooking spray to help the bread crumbs brown up.
butter flavored cooking spray
I did turn them over about halfway so the bottom would brown up as well.  All in all they only took around 15 minutes.  WOW!  But you need to use a digital thermometer to check your temperature. Chicken needs to be cooked to 165 F, but you can take these out at 160 F because we will put them back in to melt the cheese, and because the residual heat and carry-over cooking will increase them temperature in them.   If you do not have an instant read thermometer, there should be no clear areas in the meat and the juices should run clear.  (But I highly recommend one.  That $20 investment is well worth every penny as you can turn all your attention to other things!)
Now add about 2 Tbsp of marinara to the tops each chicken breast.
2 Tbsp marinara to each
Now add a big pinch (about 1 1/2 Tbsp) of shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the marinara. Then for a bit pizzazz, a sprinkle of dried basil.  
Now these guys are ready to go back into the oven.  They only need to go back in for about 3 or 4 minutes - just long enough for the mozzarella to melt. 
And here it is!  Oh goodness!  It was SO good!!
Now you could totally put this over pasta if you wanted to, with a little extra marinara.  Or you could have it with a beautiful salad for a lower carb option.  It's completely up to you.  That's the beauty of eating at home.  You get to decide... and customize your own plate.  
Baked Chicken Parmesan full plate @ menumusings.com

I hope you enjoyed this fabulous and easy family friendly recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

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Written Method:
Go ahead and get the oven preheating to about 400 degrees F.
Baked Chicken Parmesan filmstrip @ menumusings.com

We are going to start out by making a really flavorful coating.  Add together both types of bread crumbs and the next seven types of seasonings. *Time saving tip - This coating can be all made up ahead of time and stored in a zip top bag.  

Okay.  Now let's prepare the chicken.  *Time saving tip - The chicken can be trimmed of any fat and pounded thin ahead of time and stored in the fridge between sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper in a gallon sized zip top bag.  When you get home from work, just take them out and you are ready to go!  I used thin cut chicken cutlets.  They come like this, as if the grocer has cut them in half.  They are still WAY more than a normal portion, if you ask me. But there are still areas that are way thicker or thinner than the rest, which will lead to uneven cooking.  So you will need to even them out.  Take a sheet of plastic wrap and something heavy.  Pound out the chicken to an even thickness.  We want the chicken to cook at the SAME rate without being over- or under- cooked.  This also serves an additional benefit of helping to tenderize the meat.  If you don't have a meat pounder, you can use:  a small skillet, a wine/beer bottle, a rolling pin, the bottom of a heavy glass... you get the idea.  Next, we need something for the coating to stick to.  I'm going to make a mixture here with the butter and olive oil.  The butter will help everything brown up and taste great.  The olive oil is heart friendly.  Paint the butter/EVOO mixture on to the flattened chicken breasts.  Press the oiled side down into the coating.  Paint the top side once you have it sitting in the coating. Find a cute little sous chef to help you cover, and press - press - PRESS!!!!! You want the coating to really be pressed on to the chicken really well.  I set them on parchment paper for super easy cleanup.  That means they 1 - won't stick, and 2 - I won't have to add anything to the pan (like additional oil) to make sure they won't stick, and 3 - I can just throw the paper away and basically have a clean pan.  WooHoo!!!!

I am going to insert my instant read thermometer into one of these because I want to make sure I don't overcook them.  I can tell they won't take long because we pounded them out and they aren't that thick.  Overcooked = dry and yucky.  We don't want that!  At the last minute, I decided to spray them with a butter flavored cooking spray to help the bread crumbs brown up.  

I did turn them over about halfway so the bottom would brown up as well.  All in all they only took around 15 minutes.  WOW!  But you need to use a digital thermometer to check your temperature. Chicken needs to be cooked to 165 F, but you can take these out at 160 F because we will put them back in to melt the cheese, and because the residual heat and carry-over cooking will increase them temperature in them.   If you do not have an instant read thermometer, there should be no clear areas in the meat and the juices should run clear.  (But I highly recommend one.  That $20 investment is well worth every penny as you can turn all your attention to other things!)

Now add about 2 Tbsp of marinara to the tops each chicken breast, followed by a big pinch (about 1 1/2 Tbsp) of shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the marinara. Then for a bit pizzazz, a sprinkle of dried basil.  Now these guys are ready to go back into the oven.  They only need to go back in for about 3 or 4 minutes - just long enough for the mozzarella to melt. 

4 comments:

  1.  One of my favorite meals of all time. Yummy

    ReplyDelete
  2. making this today after a friend recommending it. cant wait :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Umn what is the temperature setting on the oven for the chicken parm???

    ReplyDelete

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