Parmesan Chicken

First of all, Happy Mother's Day to all you Moms out there!  I hope you have a wondrous day to do whatever it is that celebrates you.  And even if you're separated from your loved ones, I wish you a day of good eats and simple pleasures.  Sort of like Parmesan Chicken...

Not to be confused with Chicken Parmesan.  No, Parmesan Chicken is definitely not Chicken Parmesan, in which marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and pasta are involved.  Parmesan Chicken, depicted above, happens to be one of Ina Garten's (Barefoot Contessa) creations and a dish that she describes as one of her main go-to weeknight meals.  It has has now become a staple here in the Circle B Kitchen as well.  

The dish begins very much like Chicken Parmesan in that you will be pounding a chicken breast until it is thin-ish and then seasoning it and dipping it in flour, egg and then a breadcrumb-Parmesan mixture.  

It will then be sauteed until golden brown and cooked through and this is where all similarities with Chicken Parmesan disappear.

Instead of melting cheese and marinara sauce, this now very tender, crispy, parmesan-y chicken breast will be topped with salad greens that are bathed in a lemony vinaigrette and then topped with shards of salty Parmesan cheese.  As I describe it here, it may not seem all that remarkable, but in real life, it is.  It's actually quite remarkable and very tasty; the Husband declared it a keeper the first time I made it, and in the last month I've made it at least 3 times.

It's pretty wonderful served with some lemony orzo, which is what I like to do, but if you can't resist, go ahead and leave off the salad, top it with marinara sauce, melt some Mozzarella all over the top and serve it with spaghetti.  But then you'll just have to call it Chicken Parmesan. Not the same thing. Here's the recipe...

Parmesan Chicken

Click here for a printable recipe

Firstly, we must not confuse this dish with Chicken Parmesan, which includes lots of melted mozzarella, marinara sauce and often a platter of pasta.  No, Parmesan chicken begins with the same chicken cutlet, but then takes a left turn by topping it with some fresh salad greens and shards of parmesan cheese.  For the salad you can use the lemon vinaigrette recipe included below, or use your favorite vinegar-based dressing.  A balsamic vinaigrette is awesome too. 

Recipe from Barefoot Contessa, Family Style

Serves 4-6

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil
Salad greens for 6, washed and spun dry
1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4-inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin. (I sandwich the chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap)

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. (I season both sides of the chicken with the salt and pepper).  On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. (Be sure to keep the heat at medium low or the parmesan coating will burn).  Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. Toss the salad greens with Lemon Vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each hot chicken breast. Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

Lemon Vinaigrette:
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.