One of my granddaughters and her college roommate want to make dinner for their boyfriends this weekend and she texted me earlier to ask me to post Gramma Minnie’s recipe for Chicken Parmesan here.
So...Nikki, I’ve tried to re-write Gramma’s recipe and explain this as simply as possible – if you girls get stuck or if there’s something you don’t understand, you have my phone number. Good luck impressing the guys.
Disclaimer: This photo isn't mine - just found it on the Internet to let you know what it's supposed to look like when you're done.
First: Make the tomato sauce.
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes (don’t let it brown, the garlic can get bitter and if that happens, you’ll need to throw it out and start all over.)
Add the tomatoes, juice and all, basil, sherry vinegar, sugar and Parmesan rind, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, (about 25 minutes).
With a slotted spoon, remove and toss the Parmesan rind. You’re done with it.
With the immersion blender, blend the sauce until almost smooth, but still with a little texture. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. (That means taste it until you have it seasoned correctly, but be careful not to go overboard – remember, you can always add more if need be but you can’t take it out.)
Now, you’re ready to make the Chicken Parmesan:
Remove chicken breasts from packaging and rinse well under running water. Lay on paper towels to dry.
In a small bowl, mix together the panko bread crumbs with ¼ cup of the grated Parmesan and the dried oregano. Transfer to a shallow dish, (like a pie plate).
Place the flour and the beaten eggs in pie plates or shallow dishes as well, then line up the 3 dishes next to each other in this order - flour, eggs and bread crumbs. Place an empty plate or platter next to them (this is the landing place for the chicken once you have it coated).
Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. One by one, dredge the chicken breasts in flour and shake off the excess (you want it to be dry enough for the egg to stick – kind of like using a primer before painting a room), followed by the beaten egg and then cover completely with the panko. Place chicken breasts on the platter and set aside for a few minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375° F, and be sure the oven rack is in the middle of the oven. Spread half of the tomato sauce in a 9” x 13” baking dish; set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Fry the chicken breasts, turning once, until nicely browned, (about 5 minutes per side). They won’t be cooked through, but that doesn’t matter, they’re about to go in the oven.
Remove from skillet and put the chicken to the baking dish and smoosh each piece down into the sauce. Pour the rest of the tomato sauce just over the middle of the chicken, leaving the ends uncovered. Layer the mozzarella and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top.
Bake until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°, (this will take 25 to 30 minutes). Turn the oven to broil and continue to bake until the cheese is bubbling and starting to turn brown. (About 2 to 3 minutes more, so don’t walk away or it will burn). Garnish with basil chiffonade** and serve.
Notes for the girls:
* Gramma would never think of buying grated parmesan cheese in that green label sprinkle jar – you know the one I’m talking about. Always buy it fresh and grate it yourself. Save the rinds in a zip lock bag in the freezer – in addition to making this sauce, they are wonderful to toss into marinara sauce and soup pots, too.
** Remember how you've seen me roll them up tight and slice thin. This is called chiffonade.