Sunday, February 12, 2012

Baked Chicken Parm

Chicken parmesan is one of my favorite comfort foods. The chicken is delightfully crunchy and the cheesy, saucy topping is a delicious contrast.

I worked at an Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh throughout high school and college (on semester breaks) and they have a seriously large and delicious chicken parm sandwich and stuffed chicken parm dinner, filled with ricotta! They're both incredible and can turn a bad day (or dinner shift) around in no time (30 minute break time).  

I found this recipe for baked chicken parm a few months ago and made and delivered it to a friend who recently had a baby. Just last week I made it again when our friends came over for dinner. It's really easy to make, better for you than fried (obviously), and the surprise is that it uses Dijon mustard! I thought that would be weird but it's very subtle and gives it just a little tangy flavor.

Baked Chicken Parmesan
I started with this recipe and made my own sauce

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup of Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon of white vinegar
Salt & pepper

The most annoying step comes first - getting that perfectly thin piece of chicken. You can either cut the chicken breasts in half, pound them with a meat pounder, or a combination of the two! If you're using the meat pounder, first place the chicken on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap, then take out all of your anger/issues/aggression on the bird until you reach the desired thickness (between 1/4 and 1/2 of an inch). 

Next, combine the mustard and vinegar in a bowl. Add salt and pepper, then cover the chicken pieces with the mixture. Let them hang out in there for more flavor! In another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parm cheese, and a little more pepper. Now is a great time to preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Coat each chicken piece in the delicious crumb-y mixture!

Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet. I used a silpat, but you can always just use some non-stick spray on your pan.

Bake until golden brown perfection has been attained, about 15 minutes.

Now, as far as the sauce goes, you can use any recipe of your own or even a jarred sauce (I swear I won't tell anyone). I made my own using crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, carrots, celery, sugar, fresh basil, a bay leaf, and... well I don't remember. I just kept adding and tasting and it was delicious! This sauce will last me for the rest of the year month.

I also made some garlic knots, which were a HIT!

The chicken parm was accompanied by some pasta and my friends made an awesome salad with goat cheese, marinated veggies, and homemade dressing!

We had a great dinner at the table on our patio! Please note: someone took 3 garlic knots (!!) and that's the candle I ruined!

Our fabulous meal was finished with some poached pears, vanilla bean ice cream, and competitive game playing! That's certainly a successful game night :)

The meal was great and the leftover chicken parm sandwiches were awesome for lunch! Today we're going to a BBQ with these same foodie friends, so I better stop blogging and get cooking! 

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