Fall is in full swing on the farm, and most of the vegetables and fruits have been harvested. The very last of the peppers — the hot variety — were picked just in time, before the frost hit. In fact we had 6 inches of snowfall just a few days ago. It was a gorgeous sight, and I made sure to get my camera.
When the winter turns cold and the days are shorter, I turn to comfort food. It warms the kitchen and is so satisfying.
I am sharing with you one of my favourite comfort foods: Classic Chicken Parmesan. This is a very popular dish, and you can find it in many restaurants across the country. But nothing tastes quite like homemade. The recipe may seem complicated if you are not familiar with the three-step breading process; once you have your three dishes set up and seasoned, the hardest part is done.
Feel free to use your own tomato sauce or your favourite store-bought brand. You can add some fresh herbs to the store-bought to add flavour.
Chicken Parmesan is a perfect dish for entertaining, especially on chilly evenings, and it can be made ahead of time. I like to serve it with a side of pasta, garlic bread and sometimes a garden side salad. If you have leftover it makes a great sandwich the next day.
Classic Chicken Parmesan Recipe:
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
• 1 24-ounce jar of your favourite Marinara Sauce or your own homemade sauce.
• 4 chicken breast cutlets (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds total)
• salt & pepper
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup breadcrumbs
• 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/3 cup olive oil
• 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
• 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced
1. Gather your ingredients together. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place the chicken cutlets one at a time between a baggie, two layers of plastic wrap, or wax paper. Use a meat hammer or rolling pin to pound or roll the chicken pieces to an even thickness of 1/4- to 1/2-inch. Sprinkle salt on both sides of the cutlets.
3. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, mix together the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and pinch of salt and pepper. In separate shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs.
4. Dredge cutlets first in the egg mixture and then the breadcrumb mixture. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering (not smoking). Working one cutlet at a time, dip the chicken into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Working in batches as to not crowd the pan, place the dredged cutlets into the pan. Lower the heat to medium and gently fry the chicken cutlets until they are golden brown on each side, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
5. Spread enough tomato sauce to thickly coat the bottom of 9x13 casserole pan or baking dish. Once the cutlets are browned on both sides, arrange them on top of the tomato sauce in the baking dish.
6. Spoon tomato sauce over each of the cutlets. Sprinkle the tops with sliced basil. Then lay slices of mozzarella over each cutlet and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.
7. Bake in the oven at 375 F for 10-12 minutes, or until the mozzarella begins to brown.
Serve with a side salad or pasta and the remaining sauce, or in a large bread roll.
Photo by Fotolia/Brent Hofacker