Who loves some good Chicken Parmesan? Good. Everyone. Let’s continue.
Sadly, Chicken Parmesan is one of those dishes that while extremely delicious, is not that great for you. I can’t even weasel my way out here saying “Oh there’s cheese! Calcium!” or “Chicken has protein!”. It is traditionally fried and smothered in fatty cheeses. And it is so, so yummy.
But rejoice Pants! I found this wonderful recipe for a BAKED version of this delicious comfort food. All credit here goes to Chef John over at food wishes . It takes a lot of work to re-vamp a traditional recipe to be more healthy, so hard work much appreciated. My tummy thanks Chef John.
This chicken turned out amazingly well, though I did cut the recipe in half because Trusty Sidekick and I won’t eat 6 chicken breasts worth of food before it goes bad. Trusty Sidekick ate half of it by himself (aka a whole breast and a half) and if that doesn’t tell you how delicious this is then I don’t know what does. The chicken gets really tender from baking in the sauce so you barely need a knife. The cheese is bubbly (duh), and the cracker/breadcrumb/crouton topping gives just a bit thickness to the cheese so it is almost saucy. The original calls for croutons, but I had breadcrumbs and Ritz crackers and figured they would work just as well. Using the croutons in the original recipe may make it more crunchy than the breadcrumb/cracker topping I used. That decision is up to you though, lovely readers.
This definitely is on my permanent recipe list, it is so easy and delicious. Well anything that is a casserole like this tends to be super simple, so that is always a selling point with me! Plus, this recipe ranks pretty high on my cheapness scale.
I did have one of my lovely “facepalm” moments while cooking this. Pro-tip: make sure your chicken breasts are totally defrosted before you put the dish into the oven. Mine were about half-way done and my lazy brain said, “Oh no it’s fine, they will just finish defrosting while in the oven.” Incorrect, brain. Incorrect. This little lapse of judgement didn’t ruin the dish by any means, I just had to leave it in the oven for about 15 more mins. Regardless, it was inconvenient and frustrating so don’t do that.
What I will give you here is the half recipe, just because most of you aren’t feeding enough people to require the amount of food the original makes.
Moving on to your price breakdown, remember all these are simply approximations:
- 1 T. olive oil: $0.15
- 1 clove garlic: $0.05
- 3 chicken breasts: $4.00
- 1 C. marinara sauce: $0.75
- 1/8 C. basil: $0.50 (this will especially vary depending on whether you use fresh or dried basil)
- 4 oz. mozzarella cheese: $1.00
- 4 oz. parmesan cheese: $0.75 (I just use the can of grated stuff)
- 1/8 C. breadcrumbs: $0.25
- about 10 Ritz crackers: $0.25
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
- hot red pepper flakes to taste
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 if you have small ones)
- 1 C. marinara sauce
- 1/8 C. chopped basil (or half that amount in dried)
- 4 oz. mozzarella, shredded
- 4 oz. parmesan, grated
- 1/8 C. breadcrumbs
- about 10 Ritz crackers, crumbled (more or less to cover the top of the dish)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Drizzle about 1 T. olive oil onto the bottom of an 8×8 casserole dish. Put the garlic and red pepper flakes on top.
- Lay the chicken breasts on top, as close together as they need to be.
- Coat with the marinara sauce and sprinkle the basil on top. Be as liberal as you want with the sauce, no need to be afraid of going over a cup. Get saucy people. Pun intended.
- Layer half of your cheese on top.
- Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on and then add the crackers to make an even coat on top of the cheese.
- Add the rest of the cheese. If you feel so inclined, don’t shy away from adding an extra sprinkle or two of parmesan. It is chicken parmesan after all!
- Put the dish in the oven for 35 minutes until the sauce is nice and bubbly.
Hope you all enjoy! Do you prefer the crouton or cracker topping? Comment back with your topping of choice!