I have some pet peeves: people who bake theirs, and people who put mozzarella on it. Its not called chicken mozzarella- and even when you bake it, slathering it in sugary marinara and handfuls of cheese really doesn’t make that much of a caloric difference. Just do it-do it right, and eat it on special occasions. I love this dish for a dinner party, for an anniversary, a birthday; anytime you are willing to get the kitchen a little messy and serve something truly special and delicious. This is my favorite thing to make for my husband after he has been traveling for work- its satisfying, flavorful and makes great leftovers the next day.
I have to tell you that this recipe is messy. You’ll use several different bowls & utensils like you would anytime you bread or dredge something. There is nothing difficult about it- but this is NOT a one pot, one pan meal. (I know one pot meals and instant pots and crock pots are easy, and sometimes we need easy-but a one pot meal typically means one flavor, one texture…not special.) You can clean up the kitchen while its baking in the oven.
*The good news: Rather than completely submerge my chicken in oil and cook it fully, I shallow pan fry my chicken QUICK (which allows it to develop a crust quicker and soak up less fat from the oil), then bake it to finish off the inside of the chicken. I also use chicken breast halves, which makes it the perfect portion and you can’t really over indulge. I ONLY use real fresh grated parmesan cheese (parmigiano reggiano), so these are less greasy and cheesy than the kind you’ve probably had at a restaurant. You can fry these before hand, keep them in the fridge wrapped in foil, and then continue with baking them in the oven.
Now, pour yourself some wine, and channel your inner Giada De Laurentis. Apologize to your kitchen in advance and maybe bribe your husband to do the dishes. Here we go!
- 4 Chicken Breast halves (I buy mine already halved in the package, but you could use 2 large chicken breasts and cut them in half to make 4)
- 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (you could use avocado oil too)
- 3 Eggs
- 1 Tablespoon Half & Half, Milk or Cream
- 1 Cup All purpose flour
- 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 C. Panko Breadcrumbs (I buy roasted garlic flavor, you could use Italian flavor or plain)
- 1/2 Cup Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 Cups your favorite Marinara or pasta sauce (My favorite is Muir Glen organic)
- Fresh Parsley for garnish
- Bucatini or your favorite pasta for serving. Or, serve over a bed of fresh arugula and spinach dressed in oil/vinegar or a balsamic vinaigrette for a lighter take.
Recipe: Serves 4 (takes about 30-40 minutes from start to finish)
- Preheat your oven to 350 Degrees. Prepare the chicken. We need to make it even thinner so that it stays as crisp as possible. Place some plastic wrap on a flat work surface, place your chicken breast halves on top, then cover with plastic wrap (sandwiching the chicken in between). I use the palm of my hands to gently press the chicken down and make it thinner. The goal is to make sure it’s almost even in thickness throughout so the whole piece cooks evenly. Set aside and wash your hands.
2. In a large high sided skillet (12-14inches) Heat your oil on medium heat. While your oil is heating prepare your flour mixture. In a large bowl, combine your flour, garlic powder, italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Whisk gently to combine.
3. In another bowl, crack in your eggs and add the Half and half (or milk or cream.) Whisk to break up the eggs and combine. Set aside. In your last bowl, pour the breadcrumbs. Place the bowls near your stove in the ordered pictured below, flour, egg, breadcrumbs and a clean plate to place them on before they go in the oil. I ALWAYS use stainless steel kitchen tongs to flip when I’m frying.
4. One Chicken breast at a time, dip in the flour, then the egg mixture, then the breadcrumbs. It helps to use your hands to gently press the breadcrumbs into the chicken. When it is coated, transfer to plate by the oil. Repeat this process until all of your chicken is done. Gently place your chicken (I fry two at a time) into your skillet. You should hear a loud sizzle and see bubbles up around the sides of the chicken. Fry for 2-4 minutes on each side until the crust is a medium to dark golden brown. *the frying time depends on the temp of your oil but I find 3 minutes usually always works per side.
5. In a baking dish, pour 1 cup of the marinara sauce and spread into a semi even layer to completely cover the bottom. Place the chicken in the baking dish on top of the sauce. Pour more sauce over the top (as much or little as you like-I use about another cup.) Try to keep the sauce in a thin line on top so that the edges of the chicken can remain crisp.
6. Take the grated parm (it should come in a wedge like the one shown below and I grate mine with a microplane or the absolute smallest holes on a box grater). Sprinkle it evenly over the middle of the chicken, right on top of the sauce. Place the whole baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the largest piece of chicken is completely done in the center.
Sprinkle the tops with chopped fresh parsley and serve! Sometimes we eat it over pasta, sometimes its delicious over some salad greens for a lighter meal.
Remember to never pour oil down your sink drain or disposal. Let it cool completely then transfer to a disposable container such as an empty water bottle with a lid to throw away.
If reheating for leftovers I always recommend the oven on 300 until hot. Microwaving this will totally remove the crispy texture.
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