I always thought of Chicken Parm as a somewhat fancy dinner since it's featured on many a restaurant menu. But a couple of years ago I realized that there really is not much much to it! So here is the way I make mine. By the way, this picture doesn't look very appetizing to me. It really did look so much better in real life! Kayte = no good at taking pictures of food.
For my little family, three medium chicken breasts does the job. I used a whole pound of pasta and have a couple days worth of leftovers, which the girls gobble up with glee.
If the chicken breasts are really fat, or uneven in thickness, you should pound them out to an even thickness so it cooks evenly, without dry ends or raw insides. YUCK! Put them between two pieces of wax paper before beating the day lights out of them with a mallet.
Then I get 3 bowls/dishes prepared:
1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. garlic powder
1. tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
I never measure, just whatever looks good!
2 eggs, whisked
Shredded or Grated Parmesan cheese
Pour a couple of Tbs. of olive oil (don't ya feel so little "Miss Healthy Pants" when you cook with olive oil?) in a skillet and get it hot. We want to hear a sizzle when we put the chicken in.
Dredge each chicken breast in flour, then egg, then cheese. I smash the cheese in to get as much on as possible. 'Cause it's good that way.
Put the chicken breast in the hot olive oil and cook, undisturbed for a few minutes. They should get really brown. The point is not to cook through because they go in the oven next. It's just to get the coating somewhat crispy and it sort of seals the juiciness of the chicken inside for the baking process. There may be a fancy culinary term that I just don't know. All I know is that the first couple of years I was married, my chicken was either raw or super dry. When I finally tried the whole coating, frying THEN baking thing, it was one of the best days of my life. Angels started singing the hallelujah chorus, birds landed on my window sill and started singing with them and my roof opened up to allow rays of glorious sun to radiate my kitchen.
Or maybe Seth just complemented the chicken. One of the two happened.
When both sides are very brown, pop them in a 375 oven on a 13x9 in. baking dish for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Bigger chicken breast need more, smaller need less. Duh.
Meanwhile, cook some pasta (I used spaghetti this week because I was feeling boring and uncreative but you can use whatever you like. I think I actually prefer angle hair or thin spaghetti.) and heat up some sauce. I have yet to perfect pasta sauce so if you've got a fool proof recipe for good sauce, I'd love to try it!! My mother in law makes great sauce, in my opinion, but I just can't get it right. She's a non-measuring cook and I think she does it different every time but it somehow always turns out good.
When the chicken breasts are cooked, you could just eat them like that and call it a day. Who needs an extra dirty dish. But if your children are like mine and think that every meal must include something in which to dip something else, which in this case is Italian bread and sauce from the pasta, then you must keep going.
Drain the pasta, pour onto the 13x9 inch pan (I've removed the chicken for a moment onto a plate... the same plate that I'll eat dinner from because I'm anti-extra dish) and mix with some sauce. Place the chicken on top of the whole mess and top with a little more sauce. Then sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top. Then cave in and give the begging toddler (and husband) an extra piece of cheese. Put it all back into the oven to allow to cheese to melt. This is when I set the table, corral the toddler into her high chair, cut bread, throw a load from the washer into the dryer, put dirty dishes into the dish washer and solve world hunger. It's a very long and productive 5 minutes. The we sit down, Maddie prays for 5 minutes, Seth prays for 5 seconds, Eden says two "Amens" and we eat. And then I get up to get the drinks I forgot earlier.
** Alternately, you could omit using the oven and simply pour you sauce over the chicken and turn to heat down to simmer for the 15 or so minutes to cook the chicken through. I personally like finishing as many meals as possible in the oven because, well, what would happen to the world if I didn't have that time to accomplish so much? ;)