Monday, February 20, 2012

Neighborhood Grill Chicken Parmesan

Neighborhood Grill Chicken Parmesan

Someone told me a few years ago that the best chicken Parmesan he ever ate was not from an Italian restaurant or from mom or grandma’s kitchen.  It was served at a family-owned bar and grill down the street from his home.  The owners weren’t even Italian.

You know the kind of place I am talking about: 

Grill is likely spelled “grille,” and as a result of using the accepted spelling for an auto part, there is usually some reference to racing or classic cars on the walls. 

The napkins are paper and the patrons are locals.  

The only garnish on the plate is a chunk of garlic toast. 

The wine list consists of a house red, a house white and a white zinfandel, so you order a pint of Stella.  Everything on their not-so-extensive menu pairs just fine with the beer. 

It’s the type of joint you’ll visit over and over again.

Why did this man like the chicken so much?  It wasn’t about the sauce.  It was all about the crunchy coating and the moist chicken.  It was most likely deep-fried.  But there was something in the breading that he just couldn’t put his finger on, and the cook surely wouldn’t share the secret. 

I set out to create an oven-fried, healthier version that captured that same culinary spirit.  Leftovers are great, so feel free to double this recipe and make a big pan. 


4     5 ounce Chicken Breasts (pounded thin)
1      large Egg, beaten
2     tablespoons Philadelphia® 1/3 Less Fat Savory Garlic Cooking Crème*
1      tablespoon Grill Seasoning for Chicken (I used Weber)*
2     tablespoons 2% Milk
1      tablespoon Dijon Mustard
3/4  cup Seasoned Panko Bread Crumbs
1/4  cup Seasoned Italian Bread Crumbs
1/8  cup grated Parmesan Cheese (more for passing at table)
½    tablespoon dried Rosemary
1       24 ounce jar Marinara Sauce
3       ounces Shredded Part Skim or Fat Free Mozzarella Cheese
1       teaspoon dried Oregano

Other:  Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Pound chicken breast to about a 1/4 inch thick. 

In one bowl, combine cooking crème, grill seasoning, milk and Dijon mustard.   Mix well with fork until combined.

In another bowl, combine the panko and the Italian breadcrumbs.   Toss in Parmesan cheese and rosemary and mix.

Heat marinara sauce in saucepan over low heat until it is warmed through.

To bread chicken, dip each chicken breast into the wet mixture and then into the dry coating; coat liberally.  Transfer chicken to a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Repeat process until all chicken is coated.

Spray top of chicken with cooking spray to keep it moist while baking.   Bake for 28-30 minutes (juices should run clear from the chicken).  Adjust cooking time accordingly for your oven.  

Carefully remove baking dish from oven.  Top each piece with a ladle of sauce.  Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over top of chicken.  Top with dried oregano.

Turn on broiler.  Place chicken topped with sauce and cheese back under broiler for five minutes or until cheese is bubbling. 

Serve with your favorite whole grain or low carb pasta and more sauce on the side.  Pass Parmesan cheese around at the table.

Note:  Your baking pan needs to be both oven and broiler-safe.

Variation: Like a moister, less crunchy coating?   Use half panko and half Italian bread crumbs.

*Product listed by name as it is unique.  Not an endorsement and no product was supplied to blogger.

If you have a moment, please share with me in the comments:  Who do you think makes the best Chicken Parmesan ever? 
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