Thursday, October 21, 2010

Baked Chicken Parmesan

When I was scanning through dinner possibilities on BigOven last month, I came across this recipe for Lighter Chicken Parmesan.  Chicken Parm is one of Hey, Babe's favorite meals (the other being General Tso's Chicken) and I hadn't made it in a while.  One of the reasons is because it takes so many dishes because of the breading process, but since we have a dishwasher that is no longer an issue.  The other reason is because I can't guarantee that I will have the use of my hands at dinner time so I try to choose things that can be made earlier in the day and either kept hot or reheated, or are something I can make with one hand holding a cranky baby.


As I scanned over the instructions I noticed that one of the reasons this was lighter was because it was breaded and baked instead of being fried.  To me that meant I could assemble the whole thing while the kiddos napped and have it ready to pop into a preheated oven at the right time (one handed if necessary).  It worked wonderfully.  Personally I prefer my Chicken Parm fried, calories and all, but this is not a bad substitute. 

I think that next time I will toast my panko quite a bit less.  See the first picture above is what it looked like before I toasted it, and the second is after.  This was too dark for a crumb that was going to be going into the oven and getting more toasted.  The time given in the recipe was way to long and I was distracted so I wasn't watching carefully or I may have noticed it getting a bit dark.  I also think that since I am not going for lighter but rather more convenient, I will add a bit more oil (or maybe even butter for more flavor) to the panko.  I think that part of the reason this wasn't as good as the real deal was because the breading was drier than the regular fried version, these two tweaks would help solve that problem.  Who knows, maybe changing those two things will make it even better!  Well, probably not better, how can you beat fried foods?  But it might help make it a closer second.

Baked Chicken Parmesan
1 1/2 cups panko (or regular bread crumbs)
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter (or more)
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup flour 
1 tablespoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 eggs
3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat and halved
2 cups tomato sauce warmed 
3 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil 

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 475°F. Combine the panko and oil in a medium pan and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until golden. Spread the toasted crumbs in a bowl and let cool; when cool add the Parmesan.

2. In a second bowl mix the flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together. In the last bowl beat the eggs.

3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top (I found that the one from my toasted oven fits very well). Pat the chicken dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the chicken in flour and shake off the excess.  Dip the coated chicken into the egg whites and the place into the bread crumbs.  Press firmly on the bread crumbs to make sure they stick. Lay each piece of chicken on the rack as you finish it until they are all completed.

4. Spray the tops of the chicken with vegetable oil spray. This is where I stopped and set the tray into the fridge until it was time to start dinner.  When ready to proceed, place in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

5. Remove the chicken from the oven. Measure 2 tablespoons of sauce onto the center of each cutlet and top each piece with mozzarella. Return the pan to the oven until the cheese has melted, 5 minutes or so.  Serve with cooked spaghetti and sauce and extra parmesan.

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