Who doesn’t need a weeknight supper they can get on the table in under 30 minutes? This dish from Fine Cooking is a keeper. It really was on the table in no time. It’s got a lot of flavor and crunch. It gives you the pleasure of fried food but it’s not. It’s sautéed. The secret here is Panko breadcrumbs. These great Japanese imports are a terrific addition to any pantry. They’re far superior to Italian breadcrumbs. You can even find them at Whole Foods in a whole wheat variety. The other tip here is to use the recommended Muir Glen Fire Roasted tomatoes. They really have a significantly better taste than ordinary diced tomatoes. Of course, they’re organic but they’re only slightly more expensive than plain old diced tomatoes. Then there’s the cheese. Parmigiano is a staple at our house. I always have it on hand.
On the other hand let’s talk about the mozzarella. First off, please let’s all take that dreadful supermarket stuff off the table. It’s simply awful cheese. Even when you grate it, you end up with strands of the stuff that taste just like plastic. Fresh mozzarella is a completely different cheese. Yes, it’s more expensive but well worth every nickel. But if you really want to notch things up considerably, look for two of its cousins; Buratta which is increasingly available and yes, at 9.99 a “boule”, an extravagance. There’s also Straciatella, another creamy delicious white cheese that puts Sargento to even deeper shame. But Straciatella is not as widely available here. So go with fresh mozzarella or buratta and make this wonderful dish a weeknight special. We served this with some simply steamed Zucchini and Summer Squash rounds. Here’s the recipe for 4 servings. You can easily half it although I’d make the whole tomato sauce recipe and store what’s leftover for your next home pizza. Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Quick Chicken Parmigiano courtesy of Fine Cooking
Nonstick cooking spray
2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
4 thin-sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (about 14 oz.)
5 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (use the small holes on a box grater)
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
One 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes (preferably Muir Glen fire-roasted crushed tomatoes)
1/4 cup packed fresh basil, chopped (1/2 oz.)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
Mix the flour and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a wide, shallow dish. In a second wide, shallow dish, lightly beat the eggs with 1 Tbs. water. Put the panko in a third wide, shallow dish. Season the chicken with salt and
coat each piece in the flour, tapping off the excess, then the egg, and then the panko, pressing the panko to help it adhere.
Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, cook the chicken, flipping once, until the crumbs are golden and the chicken is almost cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side, adding 2 Tbs. more oil for the second batch. Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the chicken with the Parmigiano and then top evenly with the mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is melted and the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, wipe the skillet clean and set over medium heat. Pour in the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and then add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender and lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and 1/4 tsp. salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the sauce over the chicken.