My niece just had a baby and I, being the Great Aunt, decided to make them dinner. Now back in the day, when my circle was pro-creating, I would make them Chicken Parmesan, and everyone loved it and raved about it! I wish I could explain the taste, but I don’t eat chicken…sorry! It was a recipe I found in the coupon section of the newspaper way back when. Well, fast-forward 15 years…I couldn’t find the recipe I clipped…shocking I know… so I went searching for a new one. And, of course, my search took me to The Food Network. After sorting through the many choices, I decided I would try Tyler Florence’s Chicken Parmigiana as it spoke to me! OK not really…it just looked easy, and I need easy because I have a lot going on today!

So I made two  batches…one for my niece’s family and one for mine. Now I don’t know if you’ve been following this blog or not, but if not…you need to know that my family is VERY particular about their food and what’s in it…or should I say what texture it is. SMOOTH = GOOD!!  I know… it’s a major pain for those of us that like chunky, but since I don’t eat chicken anyway, I really can’t complain. I made myself a plate of pasta with the chunky sauce…so there!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 1 medium onion, chopped I did one large and used half for each recipe
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced I used jarred garlic…gasp!!
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted Totally left this ingredient out as my family isn’t kalamata olive lovers
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed Bought crushed so I could skip the hand crushing thing
  • Pinch sugar
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds) My assistant (my Mother) washed and patted them dry…a family secret!
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup dried plain bread crumbs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound spaghetti pasta, cooked al dente

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat a saute pan with olive oil and place over medium heat. When the oil gets hazy, add the onions, garlic, and bay leaves; cook and stir for 5 minutes until fragrant and soft. Add the olives and some hand-torn basil, reserve the rest of the basil for finishing the chicken. Carefully add the tomatoes (nothing splashes like tomatoes), cook and stir until the liquid is cooked down and the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes; season with sugar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Lower the heat, cover, and keep warm. For my family’s sauce I, then, transferred it to the food processor and made it as smooth as possible!

Get the ingredients together for the chicken so you have a little assembly line. Put the flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, combine the eggs and water, beat until frothy. Put the bread crumbs on a plate, add the 1 cup parmesan, chopped parsley, and garlic powder Season with salt and pepper and stir with a fork until thoroughly combined.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high flame in a large oven-proof skillet. Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off, then dredge in the bread crumbs. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once. So this was a little crazy because my assistant was doing the chicken as I was finishing up the sauce and we only have 2 big burners and 2 small burners so we were fighting over the big ones. But it all worked out in the end.

Ladle the tomato-olive sauce over the chicken and arrange the mozzarella on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan, and remaining basil. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve hot with spaghetti.

They liked it….and the sauce with pasta sans chicken was awesome too! Hope you like it!

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