Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

Pan-Seared chicken breast in a bright, marinara sauce with three cheeses and topped with toasty breadcrumbs. It's a simple recipe for chicken Parmesan. Best of all, you only need one skillet!

I'm back! Sorry to have disappeared from the blog for so long. It's been a whirlwind these last few weeks. We were gone for vacation, came back and I started a new job. Needless to say, I've been busy and very tired. I've mainly cooked many of my quick, staple recipes instead of experimenting for the blog. I did manage to make this wonderful Chicken Parmesan that is delicious and very simple.

When I think of chicken Parmesan, I think of the first time I cooked for my husband (then boyfriend). My parents were out of town one evening so I decided to invite Mark over and make dinner. Chicken Parmesan was one of our favorites to order at an Italian restaurant so I thought I'd give it a try. I had never made it on my own before, but I figured it couldn't be that hard. I mean, all it is breaded chicken, marinara and pasta right? It wouldn't take that long...

Oh my...

While I knew how to cook, I had never taken on a meal like this. Since I was still living at home, my mother did all the cooking and I occasionally made a meal or dessert/snack item for us. I knew how to make the sauce, chicken and pasta. However, I had never practiced this dish (nor was I using a recipe) and didn't take in account the preparation, organization and time.

I had three pots going: one for boiling pasta, one for making sauce and one for frying the chicken. I decided to make "homemade" breadcrumbs by tearing up some french bread. Not a bad idea, but the fresh bread didn't adhere well. And for some bright idea, I decided to "stuff" the chicken breast with cheese before breading and frying. Boy was that a mess.

Mark waited patiently in the living room watching TV while I prepared dinner. By the time I made the main course, garlic bread and salad, I had spent a good 1 1/2 to 2 hours on the meal. I can't remember what time we ate. I just remember how fast the meal went by and how it didn't taste up to my expectations. I also had a huge mess to clean up. Between cooking and cleaning up, my evening was spent.

I'm not sure that Mark remembers that frustrating evening. I for some reason, can't forget it. Every time I see a chicken Parmesan recipe:

I think of that night and...

I run.

Okay, not really, but I have no desire to make traditional chicken Parmesan.

One evening, I was watching Cook's Country and they were making a super, simple recipe of "Skillet" Chicken Parmesan. It only required one pan (a skillet) for all three steps and was ready in 30 minutes or less.

Gah! Could it be possible?

I decided to give it a try and it produced the most delicious, Chicken Parmesan I've ever had! Never again will I try a traditional Parmesan recipe. This recipe takes the fuss out of the recipe but doesn't sacrifice flavor. Unlike traditional Parmesan, there is no breading/frying and then baking in the sauce. The chicken is sauteed, and then added back to the pan when the sauce is done. Top it with three delicious cheeses, let them melt and then top with toasty breadcrumbs. It's a genius idea!

And best of all, this is the perfect dish to make for a date night at home, when you are having guests, or just a weeknight family meal. You can prep all your ingredients early and put it together quickly before dinner. It's a dish that looks like you put a lot of work into it, but is very simple.

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

  • 2 Chicken breasts, sliced horizontally into cutlets. 1/2-3/4 of a pound
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup grate Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Slice of french bread or hearty white sandwich bread
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1-14.5 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup provolone cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. In food processor, pulse bread until coarse crumbs; 10-12 pulses. Toss bread crumbs with olive oil and toast in a non-stick 12-inch skillet, stirring constantly; about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and one tablespoon basil. Wipe skillet clean with paper towel.

2. Using sharp knife, hold chicken securely and slice each breast horizontally into two cutlets of even thickness. Lightly salt and pepper each side. Place flour in a shallow dish (I like to use a pie plate) and lightly dredge the chicken in flour. Shake off excess. Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add cutlets and cook until golden brown on both sides. About 5-8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Wipe skillet clean with paper towel.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add one tablespoon olive oil and minced garlic to skillet. Saute until garlic is fragrant, 30 seconds to one minute. Add crushed tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in basil and salt and pepper to taste. Return chicken to skillet and press down into sauce to cover. Sprinkle mozzarella, provolone and remaining Parmesan cheese over chicken. Cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Uncover and top with toasted bread crumbs. Serve.

*Unlike some Parmesan chicken recipes, this does not include pasta. You really don't miss it! If you desire to serve with pasta and marinara, make extra marinara and serve with the pasta of your choice.
*I halved the original recipe to make it more friendly portioned for two people.

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