Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Parmesan Chicken Bake

When I decided to do this 365 days of recipe thing, I decided to post the good as well as the bad.

Today's was a bad one.

Not so bad it was inedible, but definitely not something that is going to have a place in my recipe rotation. The premise of the recipe is that you get all of the textures of a traditional chicken parmesan, without the time and the calories that come with the breading & frying. And the recipe originator calls it the best chicken parmesan EVER. Sounds great, right? In theory, yes.

You layer chicken, marinara sauce, cheese and then top it off with croutons and more cheese. Since the croutons are pretty big and are sitting on cheese instead of marinara sauce directly, they don't get all that soggy and you have the crunch that you get with chicken parm.

The problem is that the croutons are BIG. You end up with giant cubes of crispy bread essentially on top of chicken, cheese and marinara sauce. It doesn't come together very well at all, in my opinion. It doesn't end up tasting anything like chicken parm. The croutons are too big to be able to get a forkful of chicken, cheese, sauce and crouton all in your mouth at once. With chicken parm, every single bite has cheese, marinara, chicken and the crispy breading. I ended up plucking the croutons out and eating those by themselves, and then eating the rest of it by itself.

My problem is also that the original recipe comes in the form of a video, not typed out instructions. And while that has nothing to do with the recipe itself, it annoyed me.

Anyways, here is the recipe if anyone would like to attempt this themselves. Maybe someone could play around with it and find a better way to make this work.

Parmesan Chicken Bake
(Recipe adapted from this one.)
  • Olive Oil (enough to coat the bottom of your baking dish)
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 chicken breasts***
  • 2 cups of marinara sauce (homemade or jarred; I just used a jar of Barilla)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped basil
  • 1.5 cups of shredded mozzarella
  • 1 5 ounce package of garlic croutons
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Coat the bottom of your baking dish in olive oil. Distribute the garlic and the red pepper flakes.
  3. Place the chicken in the oil.
  4. Pour on the marinara sauce over the chicken.
  5. Top with one cup of the cheese.
  6. Sprinkle the croutons evenly over the cheese.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
I served mine with a salad and fresh baked french bread.

***About the chicken. A LOT of the comments for this recipe said their chicken was undercooked. The author of the recipe swears up and down that his 5 HUGE chicken breasts came out perfectly cooked, but err on the side of caution. We buy our chicken in huge packs from the commissary or Sam's, and the breasts are ridiculously huge (portion sizes is the main reason this country is obese, in my opinion), so I always butterfly them (just cutting all the way through) and get two smaller breasts out of each one. So while I used four pieces of chicken, they were only about 3/4 of an inch thick, and they were perfectly done in the 35 minutes it took this to cook. If you're using a whole, super thick breast, you may want to flatten it out some, or check the chicken before serving.

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