I cooked so much Italian food my first year of marriage that I’m surprised we didn’t end up speaking with Sicilian accents. Most often I turned to quick and easy pasta recipes, but when I was feeling extra fancy or it was a Friday night, I’d make Baked Chicken Parmesan.

Between you and me, the first time I made Baked Chicken Parmesan, I was ultra impressed with myself. Here was a recipe I’d seen in restaurants my whole life, right on our plates. The Parmesan chicken was perfectly crispy on the outside, lusciously juicy on the inside, and the cheese topping was hot, bubbly, and every bit as comforting as I’d hoped it would be.

No doubt we had wine, and I probably would have turned on the Pandora opera station to give the setting the ultimate Italian effect, if I weren’t already occupied shoveling Baked Chicken Parmesan into my mouth.

The funny thing about Baked Chicken Parmesan is that even though it seems fancy, it’s one of the easiest recipes to make. Although I most often associate chicken Parmesan with restaurants, I don’t actually like to order it out. For one, it’s so easy to prepare at home, I’d rather spend my restaurant dollars on a different dish. For two, most restaurant versions of chicken Parmesan are so over-the-top heavy that you lose the flavor of the chicken entirely under a pile of greasy breadcrumbs and slippery cheese.

Unlike those overdone restaurant recipes, today’s version is a healthy Baked Chicken Parmesan that fuses Italian comfort food with weeknight dinner sensibility. It’s baked, not fried, and the breadcrumb crust is satisfyingly crisp, without being so thick you feel as if you are eating at KFC.

To make the recipe especially weeknight friendly, I took a shortcut by using good-quality store-bought tomato sauce. You can make your own, but on most weeknights, which is when we usually eat Baked Chicken Parmesan these days, I am equally satisfied to open a jar.

My one non-negotiable: the bubbly, melty mozzarella cheese. I don’t think I needed to tell you that though, did I?

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