CRISPY PARMESAN CHICKEN CASSEROLE by Left-Brain Marilyn
This is not classic chicken parmigiana, but all the flavours are present plus the crumbs are golden and crispy! It can be made ahead and refrigerated until needed later in the day. I made a double recipe for relatives gathered ahead of my son’s wedding and dinner was a hit.
I do make my own pasta sauce, though I also have jars of Classico Tomato & Basil pasta sauce in my pantry as sometimes I make a half-recipe for my husband and myself (we’re big leftover fans). As for cheese to use in this recipe, I recommend mozzarella, mild provolone, Havarti or a mixture (which usually ends up being what I have to use up!). Skip the pre-grated kind as the coating on the cheese shreds doesn’t enhance the melting.
There’s plenty of sauce in the casserole, however if “extra-saucy people” are present, heat more pasta sauce to pass at the table.
350F (180C) oven
40 to 45 minutes
Makes 8 servings
8 medium-sized skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup (35g) all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp (4g) salt
Several fine grindings of black pepper
4 to 6 tbsp (60-90 mL) olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 cups (160g) fresh Italian or French bread crumbs or 1 1/2 cups (84g) coarse panko crumbs
1 cup (60g) freshly-grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (divided)
8 to 10 large fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
8 oz (250 g) mild cheese, sliced or grated (see above for kinds)
2 cups (500 mL) tomato sauce for pasta, homemade or purchased
- Remove filets from chicken breasts, if present (cook or freeze for another use such as soup or stir fry). Place each piece of chicken between pieces of plastic wrap or inside a heavy plastic bag. Flatten slightly using a flat mallet or bottom of saucepan for even cooking.
- Heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Stir flour with salt and pepper. Lightly flour 3 to 4 pieces of chicken at a time. Sauté 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned, but not fully-cooked. Remove and repeat with remaining chicken adding more oil as needed. Discard flour.
- Stir garlic with 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil in a small bowl. Add bread crumbs, half of grated Parmesan and chopped basil. Toss crumbs until coated. Set crumbs and remaining Parmesan aside.
- Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Grease a 9- x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) baking dish or coat with cooking spray. Spread a cup (250 mL) of sauce in bottom. Arrange chicken overtop, overlapping like roof tiles if needed.
- Sprinkle with mild cheese and remaining Parmesan. Dab and spread somewhat another cup (250 mL) of sauce over top. Sprinkle evenly with crumbs. Refrigerate covered casserole and remaining sauce for several hours if making ahead.
- Bake uncovered in centre of oven for 40 to 45 minutes, 10-15 minutes longer if casserole has been refrigerated, or until bubbly and top is golden brown. Pass extra sauce for people to add if they like.