It’s time for some Italian comfort food! And an excellent place to start is with this gooey, addictively tasty chicken parmesan casserole. This recipe is not for the faint of heart, but it’s part of the reason I married my husband, so it might just get you the girl.
Since this is my husband’s chicken parmesan casserole, I’m featuring him as guest chef in this post. He did all the cooking, just like he did on one of our first dates. Only this time I took notes and photos as he worked. 🙂
A couple of tips he wanted everyone to know:
- Get that chicken pounded nice and thin. He used both the sharp and smooth sides of our meat mallet/tenderizer tool (like this one) until they were about 1/4 inch thick.
- When you dredge the chicken in flour, let it set for a minute or two before dipping it in the eggs.
- Use equal amounts of parmesan and bread crumbs. That really infuses the chicken with lots of flavor.
- Once the chicken is breaded, leave it alone! Letting the chicken sit for at 30 minutes binds the breading to the meat so it doesn’t slip off when frying. Also, he wanted to note that this way you can make the chicken, have all the messy stuff out of the way, clean up the kitchen, and be ready to impress your date when they arrive.
Once you have the chicken all breaded and rested, you fry it up with plenty of oil and layer it with plenty of cheese and sauce and bake it until it is bubbly. I did say it was not for the faint of heart! You need to throw caution to the wind, pull out a nice bottle of red wine, made a vinegary salad, and dig in.
My husband wants you to know that he recommends bucatini pasta for this dish. It’s a long tubular pasta that’s like a thick spaghetti, only with a tube in the middle. We usually buy the Pastene brand.
So, now you have the reason my husband married me (my Apple Pie) and the reason I married my husband, this chicken parmesan casserole. Put those two dishes together and I think you probably have the perfect wooing meal.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 28 oz can crushed or ground tomatoes
- 1½ lb thin cut chicken breast
- 1 cup flour
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 2 cups grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup vegetable oil, for frying
- 12 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, sliced thin
- 1 lb long, thin pasta
- Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium low heat. And the garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil and then lower the heat just it's just bubbling occasionally.
- Set up your pounding surface. We like to use a cutting board (that we use for meat only) with a kitchen towel underneath it. This cushions the board and keeps it from sliding around. Using a meat mallet, pound the chicken breasts until they are ¼ inch thick. Trim off any fat and cut the chicken breasts in half.
- Line up three bowls. Also, put a cooling rack over a baking pan. This is where you will rest the chicken.
- In the first bowl, put the flour. In the second, put the eggs. And in the third, put the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Dredge the chicken in the flour, doing all the chicken at once so it can absorb the flour before going into the egg. Then begin dipping the chicken in the egg and coating it in the bread crumb mixture, patting the bread crumbs firmly onto the chicken. Put each finished piece on the rack. Allow the chicken to rest 30-60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Set up a second cooling rack and baking pan for the cooked chicken. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ¼ cup vegetable oil to the skillet. Begin frying the chicken cutlets two to three at a time. Do not crowd the pan. After a few moments, use a spatula to loosen each cutlet from the pan bottom since the parmesan in the coating will stick a bit. However, keeping the pan nice and hot will allow the chicken release easily. Cook the chicken 1 minute per side. Remove to the second rack you set up.
- To assemble the casserole, lay all the chicken out on the bottom, layering up if necessary. Ladle sauce all around the chicken, leaving about 1 cup in the pan to sauce the pasta. Top with mozzarella. Bake the casserole for 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted.
- While the casserole is cooking, heat salted water in a large pot until boiling. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta and add into pot with sauce. Stir pasta and sauce together to soak the sauce into the pasta.
- Once the casserole is done, allow it to cool for a few minutes, scatter your basil on top, and then plate it with the pasta and eat!