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This Easy Chicken Parmigiana Bake is an up-to-date re-imagining of the baked chicken parm I used to have as part of my regular student meal rotation: splitting a chicken breast between two and a ball of mozzarella between four, it is a thrifty weeknight treat to serve alongside some pasta and a tangle of rocket – the leftovers make amazing hot, cheesy, saucy sandwiches (Olia Hercules’ homemade ciabatta is best for this) the next day, too!
Honestly, I can’t believe I forgot about Chicken Parmigiana for so long that I don’t think that, up until recently, I’d made it for dinner in almost a decade. Once a staple of my student kitchen, it was when, watching The Sopranos and realising that J had never had it before did I dust off my old recipe, which was baked, rather than fried, which sure, must have been healthier, but do you know what? Working on the sauce, and the breaded chicken cutlets, and the cheese topping? I think 29 year old me can do a much better job than 19 year old me at good old Chicken Parm.
You want to start with the tomato sauce. Passata, simply simmered with garlic, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with some salt and pepper, and perhaps a pinch of sugar depending on the quality of your passata. Let that simmer away over a very low heat whilst you get on with the rest of the recipe.
Next, chicken cutlets. Two chicken breasts carefully cut down the middle to make four pieces, bashed out to an even thickness with the heel of your hand, dipped first in seasoned flour, then in egg, then in seasoned panko breadcrumbs. I know they’re hardly Italian-American, but you can’t rival their crispiness.
Then, once the whole thing is assembled in your baking dish, fresh torn mozzarella (none of that pre-grated stuff) and a generous showering of parmesan. Bake until bubbly! Honestly, THIS is what you want for your Friday night dinner.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use pre-made tomato sauce?
I prefer to make my own from scratch (and with this super simple hands off method, why wouldn’t you?) but if you have a brand you’d rather use, go right ahead.
Do I have to use Panko breadcrumbs?
No, but I find they make the crispiest chicken cutlets. Any other dried breadcrumb would be a good substitute; obviously switch them out for your preferred alternative to make this Chicken Parm gluten-free!
What can I do with the leftovers?
This one is easy – Chicken Parm Sandwiches! Warm the chicken until the cheese is ooey and melty again, and stuff it into focaccia or warm, soft ciabatta with a handful of rocket leaves. Enjoy!
This easy recipe for Chicken Parmigiana bakes crispy chicken cutlets in a rich tomato sauce under a blanket of mozzarella and parmesan cheese – the perfect budget-friendly weeknight dinner for all the family!
For the Tomato Sauce
2 large garlic cloves
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
400ml (1 1/2 cups) passata (sieved tomatoes)
2 large sprigs fresh basil
freshly ground black pepper
sugar, to taste
For the Chicken Parm
2 small chicken breasts
4 tbsp plain (all purpose) flour
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic granules
10 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 x 125g (4 1/2 oz) ball mozzarella
10g (1/3 oz) freshly grated parmesan
fresh rocket, to serve
cooked pasta, to serve
First, to make the tomato sauce, peel and finely slice the garlic cloves. Place them with the olive oil in the bottom of a saucepan set over a medium heat. Once the garlic is soft (but not browned) and has infused the oil, add the passata, using 100ml (a scant 1/2 cup) of water to wash out the carton or jar so no passata is left behind. Add the basil sprigs, season the sauce and bring it to the boil. Then reduce it to low and allow it to blip away whilst you make the chicken.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (350 fahrenheit). Carefully slice the chicken breasts down the middle so that they first open like a book, then separate in two. Using the heel of your palm, bash out the chicken pieces to even thickness.
Prepare three bowls, one with the flour, seasoned well with salt and pepper and with the garlic granules mixed in, one with the panko, and another with the beaten egg. Dip the chicken first into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Use one hand for the egg and another for the dry ingredients to avoid breadcrumbing your own fingers!
Heat a large frying pan over a high heat with just enough oil top cover the bottom. Once the oil is shimmering fry the chicken cutlets, one by one, until golden. Set them aside to drain off any excess oil on a kitchen paper-lined plate.
Fish the basil leaves out of the tomato sauce and check the seasoning before spooning it into a baking dish only just big enough to nestle the chicken cutlets. Add the chicken, and top with torn mozzarella, parmesan, and a good few grinds of black pepper.
Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden before serving with rocket and pasta on the side.
Leftovers re-heat well and make fantastic Chicken Parm sandwiches,
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