Jun 30, 2015

Chicken Parmesan with Marinara Sauce

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Breaded and lightly pan fried pounded out chicken breasts over spaghetti topped with homemade marinara tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese.

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I don’t order chicken parmesan at Italian restaurants often because it is fairly simple to make at home. Do not let the long list of ingredients fool you, the marinara sauce can easily be made ahead of time and the chicken is simply breaded and pan-fried. There is a reason it remains on menus at Italian-American restaurants around the country, it is simply delicious.

Chicken Parmesan with Marinara Sauce

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Chicken – Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are used to make chicken cutlets. The chicken is butterflied to thin out the chicken. It’s then pounded out using a mallet so the chicken cooks quickly as it after it’s breaded and shallow fried in the pan.
  • Canned tomatoes – In this marinara recipe I use both whole peeled tomatoes as well as diced tomatoes. The diced tomatoes break down into the sauce a bit more easily. Canned whole peeled tomatoes are extremely versatile. They are picked when ripe then cooked and peeled before they are canned and packed in tomato juice or tomato puree. I blend a portion of the sauce so it’s not as chunky.
  • Panko – Panko, Japanese breadcrumbs, make a great crust on fried foods and, because they are lighter, they absorb less oil than other breadcrumbs, keeping the chicken crispier.
  • Plain breadcrumbs – I use both plain breadcrumbs and panko breadcrumbs in this recipe for a crispy crust on the chicken cutlets. I opt for plain breadcrumbs rather than Italian seasoned breadcrumbs because I add my own spices.
Chicken parmesan with spaghetti-67.jpg

How to Make This Chicken Parmesan Recipe

For the marinara sauce:

  1. Sauté onion. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the butter and melt, then add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.
  2. Assemble the sauce. Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, basil and cans of tomatoes with their liquid, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon so that the sauce isn’t chunky.
  3. Simmer. Let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens.
  4. Blend some of the sauce. To make the sauce less chunky, I take about 3 cups of the sauce, let it cool, pulse it in a blender for 30 seconds then stir it back in with the rest of the sauce. It gives it a good consistency. Stir in the sugar then season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the chicken:

  1. Pound out chicken. While the sauce cooks, cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise and place each piece of chicken into a large plastic zip-top bag. Use a mallet to gently pound them so they are about ½” thick. Be careful that the meat does not break.
  2. Make dredge. To bread the chicken, set up three separate bowls. Place the flour in the first bowl. In the second bowl beat the eggs. In the third bowl combine the fine breadcrumbs, panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, garlic power, onion powder, and parsley.
  3. Heat oil. Add enough vegetable oil to a large frying pan so that it is ¼-inch deep. Heat until the surface of the oil is shiny.
  4. Dredge chicken. Take a piece of chicken and dredge through the flour then the egg mixture and then the breadcrumbs.
  5. Fry chicken. Fry until the chicken is completely cooked through and golden brown on each side, about 8 minutes.
  6. Drain chicken. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess oil. Continue the process until all of the chicken is fried.

For serving:

  1. Cook pasta. Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add the salt and bring back to the boil. Pour in the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes.
  2. Drain and toss with sauce. Drain and return the pasta to the pot. Ladle in the enough of the marinara to lightly coat the pasta.
  3. Top chicken with mozzarella and broil. Heat broiler to high. Arrange chicken on a baking sheet and top with slices of mozzarella. Broil until the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes.
  4. Assemble and serve. Place one piece of chicken on each plate. On the side of the chicken, serve pasta topped with extra sauce and Parmesan cheese.
Chicken parmesan with spaghetti-58.jpg

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

  • While many recipes add the tomato sauce over the breaded chicken and broil the cheese on top – I prefer to add the cheese directly onto the chicken and broil it. This way the chicken remains crispy until it’s served.
  • The sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen until ready to use.
  • As a shortcut you can substitute the homemade marinara with your favorite store-bought sauce.
  • The chicken can be pan fried ahead of time and reheated in the broiler just before serving.
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Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this chicken parmesan recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Chicken Parmesan with Marinara Sauce

Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the marinara sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

For the chicken:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup plain breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Vegetable oil, for frying, as needed

For serving:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 16 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

For the marinara sauce:

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the butter and melt, then add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, basil and cans of tomatoes with their liquid, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon so that the sauce isn’t chunky.
  • Let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens.
  • To make the sauce less chunky, I take about 3 cups of the sauce, let it cool, pulse it in a blender for 30 seconds then stir it back in with the rest of the sauce. It gives it a good consistency. Stir in the sugar then season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the chicken:

  • While the sauce cooks, cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise and place each piece of chicken into a large plastic zip-top bag. Use a mallet to gently pound them so they are about ½” thick. Be careful that the meat does not break.
  • To bread the chicken, set up three separate bowls. Place the flour in the first bowl. In the second bowl beat the eggs. In the third bowl combine the fine breadcrumbs, panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, garlic power, onion powder, and parsley.
  • Add enough vegetable oil to a large frying pan so that it is  ¼-inch deep. Heat until the surface of the oil is shiny.
  • Take a piece of chicken and dredge through the flour then the egg mixture and then the breadcrumbs.
  • Fry until the chicken is completely cooked through and golden brown on each side, about 8 minutes.
  • Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess oil.  Continue the process until all of the chicken is fried.

For serving:

  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add the salt and bring back to the boil. Pour in the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes.
  • Drain and return the pasta to the pot. Ladle in the enough of the marinara to lightly coat the pasta.
  • Heat broiler to high. Arrange chicken on a baking sheet and top with slices of mozzarella. Broil until the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes.
  • Place one piece of chicken on each plate. On the side of the chicken, serve pasta topped with extra sauce and Parmesan cheese.

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  1. This recipe was exactly what I was looking for when I offered to make dinner for my boyfriend and his family. Instructions are to the point, unless you’re cooking this with your eyes closed its almost impossible to mess this up. This is a great meal if you’re cooking for a large party or if you just want something hearty after work. Also, don’t forget the wine! 😉

    Definitely saving this to my archive of recipes. Thank you Kylie!