November 09, 2010

Chicken Parmesan: Fast, Easy, Tasty!

Saturday was a pretty busy day, cooking-wise.  In addition to breakfast and lunch, I cooked a batch of cookies and was working on another dessert when time rolled around for dinner.  Since I was still working on that second dessert, and since it had been a busy day, I wasn't really in the mood to cook anything complex or time-consuming for dinner.  Thankfully, I'd taken that into consideration when doing my meal planning for the week, so I had something quick on hand.

The quick dinner in question was Chicken Parmesan.  There are a lot of versions of that popular and classic dish out there, but this is probably the one that requires the least fuss, and it's as good as any of them. 

It's pretty straight-forward, really.... get some water boiling for pasta, season some chicken cutlets in salt and pepper, dip them in flour, then beaten eggs, then panko bread crumbs, fry them up quick, put them on a baking sheet, top with cheese and toss them in a hot oven to finish cooking.  While they're in the oven, you toss together a red sauce and cook the pasta, both of which should be about done when the chicken finishes baking.  Top the crunchy, cheese-covered chicken over pasta with a flavorful red sauce and serve atop pasta.  Fast, easy and delicious, and all done in significantly less than an hour.

Try it out and see for yourself.

Chicken Parmesan

yield = 4 servings

4        chicken breast cutlets
          salt and pepper, to taste
1        cup flour
2        eggs
2        cups panko bread crumbs
1/2     cup canola oil
1/3     cup freshy-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2     cup freshly-shredded mozzarella cheese
1        tablespoon olive oil
1        onion, finely chopped
1        teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2  cups crushed tomato
1/2     teaspoon dried oregano
1/8     teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
12      ounces spaghetti
1/2     teaspoon salt
1/4     cup (packed) chopped, fresh basil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a large, rimmed baking pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Start water boiling for the pasta.

Season the chicken breast cutlets on both sides with salt and pepper.  Put the flour in a wide, shallow dish.  Beat the eggs in a second bowl and the panko in a third.   Place one cutlet in the flour dish, flipping it to cover thoroughly and shaking off any loose flour.  Dip the flour-covered cutlet in the beaten egg to coat it, letting any excess drip back into the bowl, then dip it into the panko, pressing and flipping it to get the crumbs to stick on both sides. Place the cutlet on a baking rack and repeat with the other cutlets.

Heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium heat, until shimmering.  Place the cutlets in the oil and cook for about 2 minutes before flipping them and cooking another 3 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet and top with each cutlet first with the Parmigiano-Reggiano, then with the mozzarella.  Bake until the cheese is melted, about 7 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion to the skillet and cook until it has started to brown, then add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomato, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, add the pasta and salt to the boiling water and cook according to package directions.

When the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and stir in the chopped basil.  Drain the spaghetti.

Remove the chicken from the oven, arrange it on a serving platter and top with the sauce.  Serve atop the spaghetti.

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