Chicken Parmesan is simple enough for inexperienced cooks to prepare yet worthy for those who aren’t and it fits my resolution to give you a monthly recipe using a short list of ingredients. It could be your answer for an easy Valentine’s dinner. This abbreviated version, does away with the traditional dunking the chicken in beaten eggs and breadcrumbs and instead gives it a quick dip in flour. For me, a cook’s show of love is not measured by how long something takes to prepare but rather the simple act of doing it. And depending on what’s in your pantry it might just be that you’ll only need to buy two ingredients –fresh mozzarella and boneless skinless chicken breasts.
Slices of fresh mozzarella melted over the browned chicken breasts and simmered marinara sauce add moist, soft texture and milky flavor. I prefer fresh Buffalo mozzarella, its high fat content makes it more decadent and creamy. The difference being the milk is from Buffalos whereas fresh mozzarella (sans the word buffalo) is from cows.
Pounding boneless, skinless chicken breasts both speeds the cooking process and helps to cook them more evenly. Between waxed paper with a kitchen pounder works best for me. Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper sprinkled on both sides of the chicken before a light dunking in flour helps insure the seasoning is absorbed during the cooking.
The cooking is done in one pan with the simple marinara sauce cooked after the browned chicken has been removed. Once returned to the sauce the chicken is topped with fresh mozzarella slices and grated Parmesan cheese. At this point my choice is to heat it under the broiler to melt and lightly brown the cheese but you could also opt to put a lid on it and melt the cheese this way, eliminating one step.
Served on top of cooked pasta noodles and with a platter of lightly sautéed fresh spinach leaves, you have the makings of a simple and lovely Valentine’s dinner.
- 4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced
- 28 oz canned or carton diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or basil
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
- ¼-1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- Pound chicken breasts between waxed paper or plastic wrap to ½ inch thickness. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Put flour in a shallow dish and dredge chicken on both sides, lightly shaking off excess.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add chicken breasts in a single layer and cook until browned, about 3-4 minutes; turn and cook until browned on the other side, about 3-4 minutes. Remove chicken and keep warm.
- To the same skillet, add onions (adding 1 tablespoon additional olive oil if needed) and cook and stir until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until softened, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt and several grinds of fresh ground black pepper and bring to a simmer; adjust heat to low and cook 5-10 minutes to blend flavors and thicken slightly.
- Add browned chicken in a single layer to the tomatoes in the skillet, spooning some sauce over each breast. Cover and cook just until chicken is cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Preheat broiler.
- Put mozzarella slices over each breast then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Put pan under broiler and cook until cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes. Or eliminate the broiler step and cover the skillet, cooking on low just until the cheese melts, about 2-3 minutes.