Once again this young girl’s fancy turns to a chicken recipe, and this time with an Italian flair. What can you say about chicken parmesan that doesn’t scream delicious. Breaded chicken, marinara sauce, fresh basil leaves, provolone and parmesan cheeses. Sounds like a killer combo to me. And I like my little twist on this recipe, incorporating whole basil leaves under the provolone. This one got a two thumbs up from my husband, so you know it’s got to be good.
Lesson Learned 1 – You need to be organized for this recipe: This recipe has several different steps that can either work like a charm or throw you for a loop. Make sure you prep everything ahead and the process will be a breeze. Preheat the oven, set up the dredging station, grate the parmesan, lay out the basil leaves and provolone slices, have pans ready for the excess marinara and frying the breasts and so on. The key to success here is not only in the ingredients but also in the preparation.
Lesson Learned 2 – Grate fresh parmesan and don’t use the canned stuff: There is a difference. Grated fresh parmesan has a fuller, more robust flavor. It also melts better and tastes less salty. And it’s not that hard to do. I cut small pieces off a brick and put them in my mini food processor. I pulse the processor a few times just to get it started and once it appears the pieces have been broken down I just let the processor go. I guarantee you it’s worth the effort.
Lesson Learned 3 – Use less marinara sauce than you think: You want to make sure the chicken doesn’t get too soggy. Use only a little bit of marinara in the bottom of the pan and spoon only about a tablespoon on top of it before adding the basil and provolone. Keep the leftover sauce warm on the stove and you can add more to the chicken when you serve it if you like. Or you can do what I did and use it to top a side of spaghetti.
Lesson Learned 4 – Use fresh basil leaves if at all possible: The fresh basil leaves provide great flavor to the chicken. You can sprinkle the chicken with dried basil if that’s all you have, but fresh is so much better. Top the basil with a slice of provolone and you’re ready to go.
Lesson Learned 5 – You can use just one chicken breast for this recipe: I only used one large chicken breast for this recipe. I buy breasts whole with the bone and ribs attached and bone them myself. I halved one of the breasts and it left me with two perfect portions that were 1/2 inch thick. If you have thicker breast meat you’ll need to pound it down to 1/2 inch thick in order for the chicken to cook in the allotted time. Many people shy away from boneless skinless breasts because they think they’re too dry when in actuality they overcook them. Boneless chicken breasts can be very tender and juicy if cooked properly. Follow the allotted time in the recipe and you’ll have great results.
While I was making this my husband said, “Wow, that’s a lot of work.” For someone who enjoys the prep part of preparing a meal, I didn’t find that to be the case. But as I mentioned earlier, you definitely have to be organized when you make this recipe. Get everything ready up front so that all you’ll have to do is move seamlessly between each step of the process.
I’ve written this recipe for two people but it can be easily adaptable to 4 or more. You’ve got to try this and let me know what you think. It’s definitely worth it!
Chicken Parmesan For Two…
1 large boneless chicken breast, halved and pounded to 1/2 inch thick (if needed)
1 cup of flour
1 cup of bread crumbs, plain or seasoned
1 Tbs. italian seasoning
1 Tbs. garlic powder
1 cup of grated parmesan, halved
Splash of milk
1 small jar of marinara sauce
4 large basil leaves
2 slices of thinly sliced provolone
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set up a dredging station for the chicken with 3 separate dishes (I use paper plates for two of them and that works just fine). Combine the flour, garlic powder and italian seasoning on one plate. In a rimmed dish, beat the egg and milk together. Combine the bread crumbs and half the grated parmesan on another plate.
Dredge both sides of a chicken breast in the flour. Dip the breast into the egg mixture coating both sides. Dredge the breast in the bread crumb mixture and set aside. Follow the same process with the second chicken breast.
In a large skillet heat the canola oil until it looks shimmery. Use enough canola oil so that when the chicken is added it sizzles around the chicken. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Once done on both sides, place the chicken breasts on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
Lightly coat the bottom of a baking dish with marinara sauce. Arrange the chicken on top of the sauce. Put a tablespoon of marinara over the each breast. Sprinkle the remaining grated parmesan on top of both breasts. Top each breast with two large basil leaves and place a provolone slice over the basil.
Bake the chicken for 15-20 minutes. Serve.