Pesto Chicken Parmesan


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I love Chicken Parmesan. It used to be my favorite dish to order at Family’s Restaurant in Mukwonago, Wis., where I grew up. We seemed to eat there almost weekly. So I ordered the dish almost weekly. I think I finally stopped ordering this dish when I once almost choked on a piece of cheese that got lodged in my throat mid-dish. I saw my life flash before my eyes.

Maybe not surprisingly, I haven’t had Chicken Parmesan in a very long time. Aside from the near-death experience, another one of the reasons I haven’t had this dish in years may be that tomato sauce isn’t my favorite type of Italian sauce these days. I’d much rather have Alfredo, pesto, clam or any type of white sauce served on the menu of a restaurant in lieu of a tomato sauce.

So I decided to take my favorite Italian dish of my youth and welcome it to adulthood by dressing it in a sauce I love: pesto sauce – more specifically, Parsley Pecan Pesto Sauce. And the perfect time to make this dish is now because my garden has a ridiculous amount of Italian flat leaf parsley overtaking the other vegetables.

ingredients.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 c. bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 T. oregano
  • 1 T. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 14 oz. Parsley Pecan Pesto Sauce
  • 1 1/2 c. grated mozzarella cheese
  • 8 oz. spaghetti noodles

directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place chicken breasts between 2 pieces of waxed paper and pound until they are about 1/2-inch thick.
  3. In a wide shallow bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, and cayenne pepper. Lightly coat each chicken breast with flour, shaking off excess. Dip the chicken in the eggs and then the breadcrumbs, making sure to evenly coat.
  4. Heat the oil in a roomy frying pan over medium heat. Carefully add the chicken to the pan. Cook until golden brown on each side. Remove from the oil and let ‘dry’ on a rack placed over a plate, to catch any oil.
  5. Spread one cup of the pesto sauce in the bottom of a glass baking dish. Place the chicken in the dish and top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.
  6. While the chicken is baking, cook the past according to package directions. Serve the chicken over the pasta.

Little tip from me to you: It is essential to use a drying rack when cooling your chicken. If you place the chicken directly on a plate, you run the risk of the breading turning moist/falling off the chicken. I learned this trick from working in a restaurant where they served all-you-can-eat fried chicken on friday nights. I never understood why they placed the fried chicken in metal bins lined with drying racks on the bottom. I figured it out the last time I fried chicken and placed the breasts on a plate. The breading disintegrated before my eyes. It was very disappointing!

This recipe says you should bake the chicken in the sauce. I’m not apt to recommend this as the sauce soaks into the breading which makes the chicken soggy. It still tastes good, but if you want crispy chicken, I would broil cheese covered chicken after frying it and then assemble the noodles, sauce and chicken at the end – right before eating.

Besides that, this dish was phenomenal. It’s one of those dishes where even if you’re not hungry anymore you want to continue eating. It’s. Just. That. Good.

Recipe rating: 

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