If you are like me, you have about eight jars of homemade roasted tomato sauce in your fridge or freezer waiting for you to enjoy all winter long. And perhaps you are looking for another great recipe in which to use this sauce? Look no further!
I actually learned this method of chicken parmesan from Alicia, back in the days when we lived together after college. I'm pretty sure she got the recipe from the back of a Ragu pasta sauce label. I love the idea of taking a very decadent and fatty restaurant dish like chicken parmesan (which is always fried in a bunch of nasty oil) and making it leaner - and often tastier! - at home. So, I've been using the Ragu baked method for years and have pretty much perfected it.
It goes without saying that using homemade roasted tomato sauce is the key to making the dish taste great. It also goes without saying that to have a successful dinner party, you start with a beautiful plate of snacks to go with your red wine...this one is apple slices, english cheddar, marcona almonds, wheat crackers, and fig spread.
After your wine and snacks, you can start making your chicken parmesan and it will take you less than 30 minutes total. Most people do a double coat method on chicken (flour, egg, breadcrumbs) but I find that too messy and putzy so I just go straight for the breadcrumbs - and I always use panko (or Japanese-style) breadcrumbs because they are crispier and much tastier. Panko-coated chicken can be baked and it still tastes as if it were fried because of the great crunch.
Baked Chicken Parmesan
boneless, skinless chicken breasts
breadcrumbs (preferably panko)
olive oil, salt, and pepper
roasted tomato sauce
whole wheat spaghetti or linguine noodles, cooked
Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then coat each chicken breast with breadcrumbs.
Heat an oven-proof skillet on your stovetop, add some olive oil and the chicken. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the breadcrumbs get crispy. Then throw the skillet in the oven to finish cooking. (HINT: you can skip the stovetop frying part and just bake the chicken, it will take about 20 minutes to cook through. It won't be as crisp, but it will still taste great).
When the chicken is almost ready, top each piece with some mozzarella and parmesan cheese and put back in the oven for a couple minutes to melt.
This is the way I like to serve it: mix your cooked pasta with a little bit of tomato sauce and put a scoop of it on the plate. Top with your cheesy breaded chicken, and add another spoonful of sauce on top. A little extra parmesan cheese never hurts either.
This entree needs something fresh and green to balance it out, so I put it with a simple salad with sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and balsamic vinaigrette.
The meal was satisfying enough that we didn't even eat apple crisp for dessert!