Introduction: Chicken Parmesan, known in Italian as “Pollo alla Parmigiana,” is a beloved classic in Italian-American cuisine. Originating from the southern regions of Italy, this dish has made its way into the hearts and kitchens of many around the world. Traditionally, it involves pan-frying breaded chicken cutlets, then smothering them in marinara sauce and melted cheese. Today, we’re bringing you a hassle-free version: Easy Baked Chicken Parmesan. It retains all the flavors and comforts of the original but is healthier and simpler to prepare. So, let’s dive in!
Historical Context: The roots of Chicken Parmesan trace back to Parmigiana di melanzane, a dish featuring fried eggplant slices, tomato sauce, and cheese, from the Campania and Sicily regions of Italy. The chicken variation likely evolved in Italian-American communities in the United States during the 20th century, with adaptations catering to local tastes and ingredients. Over time, it has become a quintessential Italian-American dish, known for its indulgent, savory goodness.
1. Preheat Your Oven: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Prep the Chicken: Place each chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, gently pound them to an even ½-inch thickness. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
3. Breadcrumb Mixture: In a shallow bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix them well.
4. Coat the Chicken: Dip each chicken breast into the breadcrumb mixture, pressing the crumbs onto the chicken to adhere. Ensure they are evenly coated.
5. Bake the Chicken: Place the breaded chicken breasts on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top of each piece to help them crisp up in the oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) and the coating is golden brown and crispy.
6. Sauce and Cheese: Remove the chicken from the oven, and carefully spoon marinara sauce over each piece. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese generously on top.
7. Return to the Oven: Pop the baking sheet back into the oven and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the sauce is hot.
8. Garnish and Serve: Once out of the oven, garnish your Easy Baked Chicken Parmesan with fresh basil leaves, if desired. Serve hot, and enjoy your delicious, healthier twist on a beloved classic!