Sunday, March 08, 2009

What's Cooking Sunday: Light Chicken Parmesan

How often have you ordered Chicken Parmesan in a restaurant only to find the chicken is rubbery and stringy, and the breading is soggy and drenched with sauce? Yuck. Here’s a version that guarantees the breading will be crispy and light, and the chicken will be moist and tender. And it will wind up being so light in calories that your return trip for seconds will be guilt-free!

There are two major changes from traditional preparation to this version:
1) The breaded chicken is baked in the oven instead of fried, and
2) this recipe calls for using panko crumbs instead of traditional bread crumbs. You can see the difference between the two in this photo:

The panko has much larger crumbs, making for a nice crunchy crust. Panko is widely available now in supermarkets, as well as Asian markets. If you can’t find it, you can use traditional bread crumbs, but the texture of the breading will have a more delicate texture.

Light Chicken Parmesan

serves 6

1½ C panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 T olive oil
1 oz Parmesan cheese (about ½ C), plus extra for serving
½ C all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
salt and ground black pepper
3 large egg whites
1 T water
cooking spray
3 large chicken breasts, 8 oz ea, trimmed of fat & cut in half horizontally into cutlets
2 C pasta sauce, warmed
3 oz shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, about ¾ C
1 T minced fresh basil

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Combine the panko and oil in a 12” skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often until golden – about 10 minutes. Spread the breadcrumbs in a shallow baking dish and cool slightly. When cool, stir in the Parmesan cheese.

In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic, 1 T salt and ½ tsp pepper. In a 3rd dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.

Put a wire rack in a shallow baking pan and spray the rack with cooking spray.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Lightly dredge the chicken in the flour, spank off the excess, then dip into the egg white, and finally coat with the panko crumbs. Lay the chicken on the wire rack. Spray the tops of the breaded chicken with cooking spray. Bake until the chicken feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Spoon 2 T of spaghetti sauce onto the center of each cutlet and top the sauce with 2 T of the mozzarella cheese. Return the pan to the oven and cook until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve, passing extra sauce and Parmesan cheese separately.
You'll find you can apply this panko breading technique to other recipes as well. Last weekend I breaded tilapia with it, adding in some more savory spices to the dredging flour, and it was GREAT!


Andrea said...

I love this receipe. Being I'm Italian we eat this a lot...but we call it milanese...YUM!

3rdEyeMuse said...

yum, yum, YUM! that looks soooo good and the recipe sounds terrific. am handing it over to the house chef!

T.Allen-Mercado said...

Looks delicious Kate!

lori vliegen said...

i love chicken parmesan...but the rubbery, stringy kind, not so much. this looks delicious, and i'll bet the panko does make a huge difference.

p.s. i'm still chuckling over the comments you've left on my blog...i get such a kick out of you! :)

Isabel said...

sigh...I'm hungry now...heading for the kitchen...if I only had Panko...sigh...

Gabriela said...

Hello Kate,

This is a great recipe!

~ Gabriela ~