Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lighter Chicken Parmesan

My mom would make her version of Chicken Parmesan occasionally when I was growing up. Although I've always liked the idea of this dish, I never cared for how she prepared it. My dad however loves it so it makes an appearance once in a while. I've always wanted to make a different version of the dish, and this recipe sounded promising, so I made it for my dad, Lara and myself last Sunday.

While this is not a traditional Chicken Parmesan, I thought it turned out quite tasty, and would definitely make it again. This recipe was not difficult to prepare, but it did take some time, which is fine with me. There are quite a few steps. I think it would be a good recipe to make for a larger group since it made quite a bit, and it would also be easy to double.

The breaded chicken alone turned out delicious, I plan on making it into baked chicken fingers soon. It was crunchy and flavorful, not soggy and bland like other baked chicken fingers recipes. A little ketchup on the side for dipping is all it would need.

A delicious, festive Italian dish; red white and green!

Full of crunch and topped with cheese

Don't worry, the recipe makes plenty 
more than this

Note: This is supposed to be a healthy recipe, and it is, but the three ounces of cheese called for in the recipe is just not enough in my opinion. I about doubled that amount, and more wouldn't be a bad thing. I would say, just eye ball the cheese, put on as much as you want. I also didn't have any fresh basil (very sad, I can't wait until summer, when my garden will be bursting with basil!) so I used Italian parsley instead, just as pretty but not quite as tasty. So if you don't have the basil, don't sweat it.

Lighter Chicken Parmesan
from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook

If you are tight on time, you can substitute 2 cups of your favorite plain tomato sauce for the Simple Tomato Sauce. To make slicing the chicken easier, freeze it for 15 minutes.

  • 1 1/2 c panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs) 
  • 1 Tbs olive oil 
  • 1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 a cup), plus extra for serving 
  • 1/2 c flour 
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
  • Table salt 
  • Ground black pepper 
  • 3 egg whites 
  • 1 Tbs water 
  • 3 (7 to 8 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
  • 1 recipe simple tomato sauce (recipe follows) 
  • 3 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded 
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh basil leaves 
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Combine the bread crumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow dish and cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan.

In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. In a third shallow dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, place a wire rack on top, and spray the rack with vegetable oil spray. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the egg whites, and finally coat with the bread crumbs, Press on the bread crumbs to make sure they adhere. Lay the chicken on the wire rack.

Spray the tops of the chicken with vegetable oil spray. Bake until the meat is no longer pink in the center and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce onto the center of each cutlet and top the sauce with 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella. Return the chicken to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve, passing the remaining sauce and Parmesan separately.

Simple Tomato Sauce
from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes 
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 4 tsp) 
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste 
  • 1 tsp olive oil 
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes 
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh basil leaves 
  • Table salt 
  • Ground black pepper 
Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor until mostly smooth, about ten 1-second pulses; set aside. Cook the garlic, tomato paste, oil, and pepper flakes in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the pureed tomatoes and cook until the sauce is thickened and measures 2 cups, about 20 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside until needed.

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