Lighter Chicken Parmesan

Not too long ago, after I fell in love with Cook’s Illustrated magazine, I began recording the America’s Test Kitchen show on PBS. I have really enjoyed watching many of the recipes being made, picking up some tips and tricks along the way. An episode that I saved from a couple of months ago featured a lightened up chicken parmesan recipe. The key to this recipe is that the breaded chicken is not fried, but rather the panko breadcrumbs are toasted first, and then the breaded chicken is baked at a high temperature in the oven.

Big thumbs up on this recipe. This had tons of flavor, and the combination of toasted breadcrumbs and parmesan was tasty enough that I kept eating spoonfuls of it before the chicken got prepped. Next time I would probably do more smothering with the sauce and cheese, but this will definitely go into my regular rotation.

Lighter Chicken Parmesan

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
Table salt and ground black pepper
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon water
Vegetable cooking spray
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat and sliced into cutlets
2 cups tomato sauce , warmed
3 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

Directions:

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Combine the bread crumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow dish and cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan.

2. In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. In a third shallow dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.

3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, place a wire rack on top, and spray the rack with vegetable oil spray. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the egg whites, and finally coat with the bread crumbs, Press on the bread crumbs to make sure they adhere. Lay the chicken on the wire rack.

4. Spray the tops of the chicken with vegetable oil spray. Bake until the meat is no longer pink in the center and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce onto the center of each cutlet and top the sauce with 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella. Return the chicken to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve, passing the remaining sauce and Parmesan separately.

(Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated)