It’s Shakti, ex-chef and Blueprint’s Head of Content, back again with another “has-no-business-being-this-good” recipe to add to your home cooking repertoire.
Let’s set the scene: If your idea of a romantic night in (*cough* Valentine’s Day *cough*) consists of a simple meal, a glass of bubbly, and kicking up your feet to watch that one romcom for the millionth time (or a slasher film, no judgement here), then have we got the recipe for you.
Love is comforting and so is food, so naturally, it only makes sense that your Valentine’s Day dinner is, too. And what’s more comforting than chicken parmesan? We’re hard-pressed to find an answer.
Now, you may be thinking that chicken parmesan is tedious, and in some cases it can be. It’s true that there’s quite a few steps to take during preparation, but there’s also a lot of room for shortcuts. You can prep the chicken and make the marinara ahead of time, and leave the assembly for the day-of. Or skip the homemade marinara altogether and use your favorite jarred sauce. But even if you choose to do it all on the fly, you’re looking at no more than 45 minutes tops. We think that’s a small price to pay for a crispy, saucy, and cheesy chicken parm reward.
Tools of the trade
Before beginning your prep, make sure you have all your tools and hardware handy. To make our marinara, we used the wonderful FiveTwo 3-Quart Saucepan by Food52. For the pièce de résistance (the chicken cutlet), however, we used the 12” and 10” Classic Pans by Material Kitchen for frying and baking, respectively.
When cooking the chicken, it’s important to use a pan that can not only be used on a burner, but can safely transfer to the oven under high temperatures. That means typically avoiding teflon, plastic handles, or any other material that can’t handle upwards of 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Apart from the proper cookware, you should also grab:
- Cutting board
- 3 shallow dishes
- Fine cheese grater, like a Microplane
- A meat mallet, heavy rolling pin, or even a wine bottle
- 2 Medium-sized mixing bowls
- A blender or food processor
Let’s get started!
Chicken Parmesan with Simple Arugula Salad
For the marinara
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 28 oz. can of diced San Marzano tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the chicken
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ½ cup AP flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cups panko
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan, preferably grated yourself
- Neutral, high temperature oil (like Canola)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup fresh mozzarella, grated (freeze for 20 minutes to make it easier to grate)
- A few basil leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the salad
- 3 cups arugula
- ½ lemon
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
- Maldon salt, or any flaky salt
If you’re using your favorite jarred tomato sauce, go ahead and skip making the marinara. However, this marinara is so simple to make and truly unbeatable in flavor.
In a saucepan on medium heat, add the olive oil and butter. Once heated through, add the diced onions and minced garlic. Cook over medium to low heat, stirring constantly until translucent. We’re not going for fully browned here, but golden edges never hurts.
Once the onions and garlic are fragrant and translucent, add the diced San Marzano tomatoes. Gently simmer at low-medium heat for about 20 minutes, then season with salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. The sugar is only meant to offset the acidity of the tomatoes, the sauce shouldn’t be too sweet. Once seasoned, add oregano and let it simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Set the marinara aside to cool.
Once cool enough, blend until mostly smooth and return it to the saucepan. Keep the marinara warm on low heat until needed.
If you want to skip handling the raw chicken breasts, you can ask your butcher to butterfly them for you. If doing it yourself, butterfly the chicken by laying it flat on your cutting board and cutting horizontally lengthwise from the curved side of the chicken breast to the center. Without cutting all the way through, open up the chicken breast (it should look like a heart, aww ❤️). Repeat for the second breast.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Laying a piece of plastic wrap over the chicken on the cutting board, pound it with a mallet, rolling pin, or wine bottle until the chicken breast is about a ½ inch thick. Repeat the process with the second chicken breast.
Set out 3 shallow dishes. In one dish, add the flour and season it with salt and pepper. In the second bowl, beat the two eggs. In the third dish, add the panko and season with salt and pepper and mix in the grated parmesan.
Working with one chicken breast at a time, dredge them in flour and shake the excess flour off. Dip the chicken breast in the eggs until completely coated. Finally, coat the chicken in the parmesan/panko mixture (gently press it on if that helps) and set aside. This can be done a day in advance.
In a large pan, heat enough neutral oil (and the 1T of butter) to reach about ⅓” high in your pan on medium-high heat. Once hot (you can test by dropping a piece of panko in. It should sizzle vigorously), gently place the chicken in the pan. Cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes and flip to cook the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan and drain on a paper towel while the second breast cooks.
Place the cooked chicken breasts in a baking dish (or separate skillet). Add about a ½ cup of marinara to each chicken breast and spread it to cover most of the surface. Sprinkle a generous amount of grated fresh mozzarella and some more parmesan, if desired. Bake in the oven until cheese is melted and slightly bubbly, about 7-10 minutes.
While the chicken is baking, toss the arugula with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and Maldon salt (or any flaky sea salt) to taste.
To serve, place chicken parmesan on a plate and top with the simple arugula salad. Garnish with torn basil and shaved parmesan, if desired. Enjoy!
Click the recipe below to download and print. Until next time, friends!
-Xoxo, Shakti 💕