Cheesy Chicken Parmesan
Oh how we love chicken parmesan—chicken cutlets, breaded and fried, smothered with tomato sauce, covered with Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and baked until the cheese is bubbly and melts into every nook and cranny.
Like its sister recipe, my mother’s parmesan chicken (chicken nuggets dipped in melted butter, breaded and baked), this dish is pure comfort food.
It’s one of those everyone-should-know-how-to-make recipes. It’s easy and comes together quickly. In fact, it’s hard to mess up! Chicken parmesan is also one of the best uses I can think of for boneless, skinless, chicken breasts.
One trick that will save a little time with making the sauce is to peel and grate the onion instead of chopping it. Use the large holes of a box grater. The onion will cook faster this way, release more of its juices, and your sauce will come together more quickly.
Your sauce will only be as good as your tomatoes, so use a good quality canned tomato! We like San Marzano or Muir Glen.
Grating the onion will create smaller onion pieces and release more of the onion's juices, and is faster than chopping.
- 1/2 large yellow onion, grated (don't cut onion in half, just grate half of a whole onion), about 3/4 cup of grated onion
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes (we use Muir-Glen)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Pinch of sugar
- 4 chicken breast cutlets (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds total)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (we make our breadcrumbs running pieces of stale French bread through a blender)
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 Sauté onions, add garlic, add tomatoes and spices: First start the sauce and while the sauce is cooking you can proceed with the chicken. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Add the minced garlic. Cook until fragrant, about a minute more.
Then add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to maintain the simmer. Cook, uncovered while you prepare the chicken (about 10-12 minutes).
2 Preheat oven to 400°F.
3 Pound cutlets thin: Place the chicken cutlets one at a time between two layers of plastic wrap or wax paper. Use a meat hammer, mallet, rolling pin, or even a heavy empty wine bottle to pound or roll the chicken pieces to an even thickness of 1/4 to 1/2-inch. Sprinkle salt on both sides of the cutlets.
4 Prepare breadcrumbs and eggs for dredging: In a shallow bowl (large enough to dredge the cutlets), mix together the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and pinch of salt. In separate shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs.
5 Dredge cutlets and brown them: Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering (not smoking) and a piece of breading dropped into it sizzles.
Working one cutlet at a time, dip the chicken cutlet into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Working in batches as to not crowd the pan, place the dredged cutlets into the pan.
Lower the heat to medium and gently fry the chicken cutlets until they are golden brown on each side, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
6 Arrange sauce, cutlets in baking pan, top with basil and cheese: Spread enough tomato sauce to thickly coat the bottom of 9x13 casserole pan or baking dish. Once the cutlets are browned on both sides, arrange them on top of the tomato sauce in the baking dish.
Spoon tomato sauce over each of the cutlets. Sprinkle the tops with sliced basil. Then lay slices of mozzarella over each cutlet and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.
7 Bake: Bake in the oven at 400°F for 10-12 minutes, or until the mozzarella begins to brown.
Serve with pasta and the remaining sauce, or in a large bread roll.