A Beginner Cook Can Learn To Make This Recipe!
Almost everyone I know loves a good chicken parmesan. I love it, and so do my boys, Danny and Benji. I make this recipe often just for the family, and sometimes for company. This recipe is so easy, even a beginner cook can make it!
for the chicken: (for 4 people)
- 1 pound of thin sliced chicken cutlets
- plain or seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water
- kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 8 oz of grated or sliced whole milk (or part skim) mozzarella cheese
- freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese (optional)
for the marinara sauce (or you can use a good jarred sauce):
This recipe makes about 4-5 quarts of sauce, so if you wish to make less, just halve each ingredient. You will need less than 1 quart for this recipe, but if you are serving pasta on the side, you can some of the sauce for your pasta. I never make half a recipe because what’s the point? As long as you’re spending the time, you might as well make enough so you can put a few quarts in the freezer. I use this sauce for everything- making my homemade pizza, my baked ziti, and just for over spaghetti.
- 4- 28 ounce cans of peeled plum tomatoes in thick puree
- 1- 8 ounce can of tomato paste
- 1 very large or 2 medium onions
- 6-8 cloves of garlic
- extra virgin, pure, or light olive oil (I use the light)
- kosher salt
- crushed red pepper
- fresh ground black pepper
- scant teaspoon granulated sugar
- herbes de provence
- freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for serving
Peel and quarter the onions. Put them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse the onions until they are almost pureed; they will have the consistency of apple sauce. Then peel the garlic cloves, and crush them using a garlic press. Set the garlic aside. Put about 1/4 cup of olive oil in the bottom of a pretty big pot over a low to medium flame. Put about 1/2 teaspoon of crushed pepper in the oil. I’ve been using my Le Creuset dutch oven lately, but for years, I made this sauce in my big Farberware pot, and it came out just as good. After a minute or so, dump the onions in, and saute them until they are really translucent and soft. Then add the crushed garlic and cook for another minute or two.
Rinse out the bowl and blade of the food processor, and then put all the whole tomatoes in, reserving all the puree or juice. Pulse the tomatoes, until they are quite, but not totally smooth. You want the tomatoes to still have just a little bit of texture to them, but they should not be in large chunks. Dump the tomatoes into the onion and garlic mixture, and add all of the puree from the cans. Then, add the one can of tomato paste.
Add kosher salt to taste, about 2 teaspoons, and some freshly ground pepper, about 8 grinds, put the top on, and simmer over a low to medium flame for about 30-45 minutes. Then, taste the sauce. At this point, I usually add a little less than a teaspoon of sugar, and about 1/4 teaspoon of herbes de provence. If you can’t find herbes de provence, you can substitute an Italian seasoning blend. You may also add more salt, and a little more crushed red pepper, if you like your sauce to have a little more heat. Simmer it (cover on) for another 45 min. or an hour so that all the flavors can meld with the tomatoes.
Note: When I make this sauce to go with pasta, I cook 1 pound of pasta for 4 people, or 1 1/2 pounds of pasta for 6 people. I drain the pasta in a colander, and put it back in the same pot I cooked it in. I then add the marinara sauce back to the pasta, using about 3/4 of a quart of sauce for 1 pound of pasta, or 1 quart of sauce for 1 1/2 pounds of pasta. I heat the pasta with the sauce for a minute or two to coat the noodles beautifully with the sauce.
to make the chicken cutlets:
Beat the egg with a teaspoon water in a mixing bowl. Put all the cutlets in the bowl, smoosh the cutlets around in the egg to really cover them totally. Put either some plain bread crumbs, seasoned bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs on a plate. If the bread crumbs are plain, then add a sprinkling of kosher salt and some grinds of fresh cracked pepper. If you are using the seasoned bread crumbs, you may want to add a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese and/or freshly ground pepper to the crumbs. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Take one cutlet, well coated with the egg mixture, and place it on the plate with the crumbs. Turn the cutlet a few times, and use your hands to pat the crumbs into the chicken. Then, transfer the first cutlet to the foil lined cookie sheet. Repeat until you have breaded all your cutlets. You can do this in advance in the morning, and cover the cutlets with plastic wrap, and refrigerate till you get home from work. Otherwise, you can fry the chicken cutlets right after you have breaded them. Over a medium flame, heat your largest non-stick frying pan up for a few minutes. Then pour some oil in to coat the bottom of the pan- about 1/8 inch. Place the cutlets in without overcrowding them. Brown on one side over a medium flame, then turn and brown on the other side.
to put the whole thing together:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover a half sheet pan with aluminum foil. Put the chicken cutlets on the pan. Spoon some sauce over each cutlet. Then sprinkle some grated mozzarella cheese or place some thin slices of mozzarella cheese on top of each cutlet. Place in oven for a few minutes. Then change the setting on the oven to broil. Your sheet pan should be in the middle of the oven or on a lower rack. Watch carefully. The idea is for the cheese to start to become brown in spots all over, but not burned. When the cheese is bubbly and brown, take the cutlets out and serve with freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese on the side.