Italian food is one of the most economical cuisines you can make at home. Fortunately, it’s also one of the most delicious.
At the market this week, I found a 3 lb. package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $4.14. It contained two enormous chicken breasts, one of which I threw in the freezer for another time and the other I cut in half lengthwise. Then, I opened up each one by making two slits and flattening them out.
This gave me two large flat pieces of chicken breast perfect for chicken parm all for about $1.03 apiece.
I used them to make this Italian classic that is guaranteed to please your family
Note: This recipe is for two portions. But it’s set up the way I would do it in a restaurant – the chicken, the sauce and the pasta are all prepared and staged separately, then assembled when you are ready for service.
If you wanted to make, say, 12 portions of this for a dinner party (or 200 for a banquet, for that matter), it would be exactly the same procedure, just increase the amounts of each and assemble 12 instead of 2. You can even make the components a day or two ahead of time then heat up when you are ready to assemble.
For the Breaded Chicken Cutlet
2 boneless/skinless chicken breast
½ cup bread crumbs
2 TBS Crisco
For the Pasta
1 lb dried whole wheat linguini (or whatever pasta you want)
½ green pepper, diced
3 medium mushrooms, sliced
½ medium onion, diced
1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3-4 TBS EVOO
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Sauce
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 TBS Italian Seasoning
1 tsp sugar
4 oz Fresh Mozzarella, cut into 4 discs
2 oz Grated Parmesan
1. Heat large cast iron pan over medium heat. When pan reaches temp, add Crisco and melt. Meanwhile, season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, spray with pan spray, then dredge in bread crumbs. One at a time, carefully place chicken breast in pan and brown on both sides, about two minutes per side. Remove and let rest on sheet pan.
2. In a small saucepan, combine tomato sauce, Italian seasoning and sugar. Cook over a medium low heat, stirring once or twice, until tin can taste is cooked out, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Cook pasta in 4 quarts boiling water until done, about 10 minutes. Drain in colander. Drizzle with a little EVOO to keep from sticking together. Do not rinse!
4. Saute onion and green pepper until onion translucent, about five minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté for another minute or two. Add garlic and sauté another minute. Turn off heat.
5. Use a Tablespoon to spread pool of tomato sauce on top of each chicken breast. Shingle two discs of fresh mozzarella on each breast and sprinkle with a generous amount of grated parmesan. Cook in 350F oven until chicken cooked through and mozzarella melted and bubbly, about 15 minutes.
6. Return heat to pasta pot. Add sautéed vegetables. Add pasta. Add remaining EVOO and grated parmesan. Stir and heat through. Season to taste with S&P.
7. To plate, use tongs to pile pasta and vegetables mixture high into middle of pasta bowl. Use a spatula to place chicken on top. Garnish with drizzled EVOO and maybe some chopped parsley or if you have some. Or stick a sprig of parsley in a corner of the chicken for added height.
You can use this same recipe to make Eggplant Parmesan, Zucchini Parmesan, or even Veal Parmesan. Just replace the chicken with any of these substitutes and follow the same recipe. For Veal Parmesan, Cut a veal loin into 2 oz discs, then use a kitchen mallet to pound out each into a flat patty between two pieces of heavy plastic, such as freezer bags.
By the way, this versatile red sauce is the same one I use for my pizza. For that complete recipe, click here.