Chicken Parmesan

I have not made this dish in years, but chicken parmesan was a childhood favorite of mine.  I decided to place a bed of spinach at the bottom of my parmesan – changing things up a bit, and making up for some of the less healthy aspects of this dish.  It turned out terrifically.  The spinach brings a level of moisture to the dish that had previously been dependent on the fats found in the fried breading and the cheese.  No more worrying about dried out chicken or not having enough marinara sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • Salt and Pepper for seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups seasoned Breadcrumbs (they can be bought pre-seasoned, or you can season them with your own selection Italian herbs: ex. oregano and basil)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3-5 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3-4 cups Marinara Sauce
  • 6 oz Baby Spinach
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups grated Mozzarella Cheese

Directions:

  1. Slice and pound out the chicken breasts into thin slabs.  I usually slice the chicken breasts length-wise into three pieces.  I then pound out each length until they are about a 1/4′ thick.
  2. Marinate the chicken in the buttermilk.  Season the marinating chicken with salt and pepper, and store it in the refrigerator for a few hours – preferably, overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Grease a large rectangular baking dish.
  5. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with the spinach.
  6. Heat up a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil in it, for browning your chicken.  This is the beginning of a delicate balancing act in which you want to use as little excess fat (in this case olive oil) as possible, but you also want the breading on your chicken to be nicely even and golden.  You really do not want it to stick.  What I have found that works best for me, is to add a tablespoon of olive oil between each round of chicken browning.
  7. In a shallow dish combine the breadcrumb and the parmesan cheese.  Season them with salt and pepper.
  8. Dredge each piece of chicken in the breadcrumb mixture.
  9. Brown the breaded chicken in the skillet.  You do not need to cook the chicken all the way through since it will continue to cook in the oven – you just want to make sure that the breading is sticking to the chicken and is a nice golden brown.
  10. Arrange the browned chicken on top of the spinach.
  11. Spoon the marinara sauce evenly over the chicken.
  12. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top of the marinara.
  13. Bake the chicken parmesan for about 35 minutes.

Note:  Do not worry if there seems to be a lot of excess liquid in your chicken parmesan when you first pull it out of the oven.  The spinach has a tendency to give off a lot of liquid when baked this way.  It still somehow comes together, and serves up delightfully, especially, when placed on pasta. 

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