Chicken parmesan is one dish that every busy cook should have in his or her repertoire. Once you get the hang of it, it comes together quickly; it’s lip smacking good and utterly satisfying. Chicken parmesan is also one of the best uses I can think of for boneless, skinless, chicken breasts. Here’s a fun trick with this recipe: instead of chopping half an onion, take a whole onion, peel it, and then use a box grater (the kind you use for cheese) and grate half of the onion (on the side with the big holes). The onions will cook faster this way, release more of their juices, and your sauce will come together more quickly.
4 chicken breast cutlets (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds total)
1 cup breadcrumbs (we make our breadcrumbs running pieces of stale French bread through a blender)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 Prepare the sauce. Coarsely grate half of an onion. Grating the onion will create smaller onion pieces and release more of the onion's juices, and is faster than chopping. Heat olive oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the minced garlic. Cook until fragrant, about a minute more. Then add the tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to maintain the simmer. Cook, uncovered while you prepare the chicken (about 10-12 minutes).
2 Preheat oven to 400°F. Working one at a time, place a chicken cutlet between two layers of wax paper (or plastic wrap). With a meat pounder, pound the chicken pieces to flatten them to an even thickness - between 1/4 - 1/2 inch. (If you don't have a meat pounder, you can use a rubber mallet, an empty wine bottle, or a heavy rolling pin.) Salt the chicken pieces well.
3 In a shallow bowl (large enough to dredge the cutlets), mix together the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and pinch of salt. In separate shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs.
4 Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. The oil should be shimmering, not smoking. Dredge the chicken pieces 1 piece at a time first in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs. Then lay the pieces in the hot sauté pan. Turn the heat to medium, then gently fry the cutlets until they are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.
5 Spread enough tomato sauce to thickly coat the bottom of 9x13 casserole pan or baking dish. Once the cutlets are browned on both sides, arrange them on top of the tomato sauce in the baking dish. Place sauce over each of the cutlets. Sprinkle the tops with sliced basil. Then top the cutlets with slices of mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.
6 Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the mozzarella begins to brown.
Serve with spaghetti and the remaining sauce, or in a large roll.