WOW! This was a fantastic dish! I seriously wish I had room for another helping but it is also very filling. This ONE skillet meal came together quickly and easily and we just ate it up. The rich marinara sauce made from SCRATCH combines with heavenly melted cheeses and tender, juicy chicken to make a dish that will grace our table again and again. This recipe is courtesy of Mel's Kitchen Cafe and while she says that it is nothing fancy, it is easily as beautiful and tasty as the meal my hubby and I had at Carino's Italian restaurant last night! And the best part? No $30 price tag for this one!
I mentioned on my last post that my favorite place to get pre-baked bread is from Wal-mart. Do you know the baskets of fresh baked french bread that they have by the check-out stands for $1 each? Well if you go back to the bakery section itself they have various "flavors." I bought a $0.98 loaf of parmesan garlic french bread to pair with this meal. I cut it in half, brushed it with butter, sprinkled it with a little fresh grated parmesan and broiled it in the oven for 2-3 minutes just until it was golden brown. My husband loved it so much he said it was like eating candy!
Let's talk for just a minute about parmesan. Now, if you are like me, you have a big bottle of grated parmesan above your oven that you have used in all dishes that call for parmesan since the beginning of time. My mother, once again, showed me the error of my ways. She buys fresh parmesan pre-"grated"/shredded and then measures out 1 cup into sandwich baggies to freeze for later use. After tasting the difference between her parmesan dishes and mine I decided that I had to try it out - and I will NEVER go back. The fresh parmesan makes such a huge difference in the flavor of the dish. And the price tag really isn't that different. I can get a big bag of parmesan at Sam's Club for about $9. It comes out to be 6+ cups. And how often are you going to use an entire cup for one recipe? I keep one baggie in the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer. When one bag runs out you just stick the next bag in the fridge!
This recipe makes 6 hearty portions so invite some friends over and prepare to WOW them. Or, be selfish like us and hoard it all to eat for leftovers the next day. :-)
The recipe and picture can be found at Mel's fantastic blog located at this site here: http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2011/05/skillet-chicken-parmesan.html
Skillet Chicken Parmesan
*Note: I use really thick boneless, skinless chicken breasts to make thinner cutlets (by cutting in half lengthwise) but if you don't have or can't find thick chicken breasts, use thinner chicken breasts, keeping an eye on cooking time to make sure they cook all the way through.
2 cloves garlic, finely minced28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise to make 6 thinner chicken cutlets
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded provolone or sharp provolone cheese (I didn't have this on hand and didn't want to buy it so I just used double the mozzarella)
Hot spaghetti noodles for serving
In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, oregano, basil, sugar, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
In a large 12-inch skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat until rippling and hot. Thoroughly dry the chicken pieces and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the flour in a shallow dish and dredge the seasoned chicken pieces in the flour, coating both sides. Gently place 3-4 of the chicken pieces in the hot oil and cook for 3 minutes and then flip and cook 3 minutes longer until a nice golden crust has formed on the chicken (they'll continue to cook in a later step). Remove the chicken to a plate and continue with the remaining pieces, removing them to the plate when they have been browned.
Wipe the skillet of excess oil and pour the sauce contents in the bowl into the skillet, taking care of splatters if the skillet is still piping hot. Turn the heat to medium and gently nestle the pieces of browned chicken into the sauce, making room for all six chicken breast cutlets. The chicken should be mostly covered with the sauce. Cover the skillet and simmer the sauce and chicken on medium or medium low for 15 minutes, checking every few minutes to make sure the chicken isn't sticking to the bottom of the skillet. If so, turn the heat down a bit.
Uncover the skillet, sprinkle the mozzarella, provolone and remaining Parmesan cheese over the chicken and sauce. Cover and cook for five more minutes, or until cheese is nicely melted.
Serve over hot spaghetti noodles, if desired.