I’m an 80:20 kind of gal. In fact, I think there are a lot of things in life that this ‘rule’ can apply to; eating is one of them. I’m the first one to take an extra helping of kale, but there are times when I give myself some slack and dig my fork into something slightly more decadent, like chicken parmesan. The key to healthy living is moderation and balance, and my splurges aren’t the kind from a package with a mile-long ingredient list.
When I met Charles (my hubby), he suggested that I come over to my parent’s house and cook them dinner the very first week that we met. My thoughts? This guy is gutsy! The result? The best night EVER! My dad jokes that he traded his daughter for a chicken cutlet. While this may be true, I can’t totally fault him. This is one damned good dish.
Charles’ Chicken Parmesan is perfectly crisp with a zesty rich tomato sauce that isn’t too thin and is topped with the best fresh mozzarella one can find. We met seven years ago and it is still our favorite meal, especially my dad’s!
- 6 chicken breasts, evenly pounded flat to ½ inch *
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 4 eggs, well beaten
- 2-3 cups panko crumbs
- 1 ½ cups fresh parmesan cheese, grated and divided in half
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- ¼ cup fresh rosemary, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 medium tomatoes, diced
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
- 2 large balls fresh mozzarella cheese, cut in slices
- 6 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 6 fresh basil leaves, diced)
- Place your chicken breasts between two sheets of wax or parchment paper and pound your chicken breasts with a mallet until ½ inch thick. Season each chicken breast on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside on a plate at room temperature.
- In a shallow medium bowl (such as a pie dish), combine the flour, garlic powder, sweet paprika, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Set aside.
- In another shallow large bowl, place the panko and half of the Parmesan cheese (3/4 cup) in the bowl and season with salt and pepper.
- To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large deep frying pan on the medium heat setting on your stove. Add the diced onion and cook the onion until transparent and lightly golden brown, approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rosemary and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and sugar and simmer on low heat for approximately 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water to the sauce as you cook it to keep it becoming too dry.
- Once the sauce is cooked, stir in your basil and remove from the heat and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 170F and place one rack a couple of inches from the broiler (second rack) and the other in the middle of the oven.
- In a separate large frying pan, heat 1/4” of canola oil on medium heat on the stove.
- Once the oil is ready, take each chicken breast and lightly dredge in the flour followed by the egg and ending with the panko. Make sure that each piece of chicken is lightly coated on all sides. Cook one piece of chicken at a time on each side until golden brown, approximately 3-4 minutes a side. Place the cooked chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in the oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining chicken. Repeat this step with each breast until they are all cooked, being sure to leave space between each chicken breast in the oven (don’t stack).
- Once the chicken breasts are cooked, remove the pan from the oven and preheat the oven to broil. Keeping the chicken on the baking sheet, top each chicken breast with approximately 1/3 cup of tomato sauce (or as much as you would like), spreading the sauce over the chicken breast, add 1-3 slices of mozzarella cheese (depending on the size) and top with a spoonful of the remaining Parmesan cheese.
- Once all of the chicken breasts are prepared, place the baking sheet on the higher oven rack and broil for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- Remove from the oven, top with the rosemary or basil garnish if desired and serve!