Hands down, this is the best chicken parm recipe I have ever made. The chicken is tender and juicy and the breading is crisp. It's baked in the oven, so it's light on fat and calories...but you would swear it was fried.
There are a couple of things that make this dish so memorable...first, the chicken breasts are brined. If you have never brined poultry before, you should really give it a try. I normally have access to pre-brined boneless, skinless chicken breasts through my local elementary school's Market Day, but by the end of summer, I am back to buying chicken breasts at the fresh meat counter of my grocery store. Without a brine, these breasts can cook up tough and chewy. Brine makes a world of difference in fresh chicken that has no added salt or water to it..and it is super easy. All you need is time. Just be sure that the chicken you are brining has not gone through a similar process before hitting the store shelves! Second, the cripsy panko breading is pan browned with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil BEFORE you put it on the chicken to bake in the oven. This ensures that the chicken breast comes out nice and crunchy, with minimal added fat!
The original recipe comes from The America's Test Kitchen HEALTHY Family Cookbook. I have made Chicken Parmesan before many times, but this recipe is the best one I have made yet and at 8 poinst+ per serving, it is a keeper!
Best Light Chicken Parmesan
adapted from The America's Test Kitchen HEALTHY Family Cookbook
Servings - 6 Serving Size - 1 breast w/ toppings Points Plus per Serving - 8 points+
Calories - 330, Total Fat - 10g, Carb. - 20g, Protein - 36g, Fiber - 2g
To Brine Fresh Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts:
In a very large bowl, combine 2 quarts of cool water with 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of kosher salt. Stir until sugar and salt have dissolved into the water. Add in chicken breasts and submerge completely into liquid. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove breasts and pat dry. ( when using in recipes once brined, do not season with salt before cooking)
1 1/2 cups plain panko breadcrumbs
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
6 TBS. eggbeaters
6 ( 4 -ounce ) boneless, skinless chicken breasts that have been brined and pounded to 1/4 inch thick
fresh ground black pepper
2 cups of 1 point+ per serving Marinara sauce of your choice ( such as Basic Tomato Sauce Two Ways ), warmed
3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 TBS. chopped fresh basil
1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Prepare large baking sheet by covering with foil and then positioning wire racks on top and spraying with cooking spray. Take out three pie dishes or similar containers for breading process.
2. In large nonstick skillet, preheat olive oil on med high. Add in panko, and stirring frequently, cook until golden brown. Take off heat and put in one of the pie dishes you took out for breading and allow to cool. Once cooled, mix in the Parmesan cheese.
3. In another pie dish, combine the flour and the garlic powder. Pour the eggbeaters into the third pie dish. To set up your breading station, place in this order, the flour, the eggbeaters and the panko/parmesan cheese mixture.
4. Season the chicken with the pepper. Bread each chicken breast starting with the flour, Shake off excess. Dip into the eggbeaters and then coat with the panko. Place on the prepared wire rack and repeat with remaining chicken. Spray tops of chicken with cooking spray.
5. Bake in oven for 10 minutes. ( or until chicken registers 150 -160 degrees F on instant read thermometer)
Remove chicken from oven, and top with 2 TBS of sauce and 2 TBS of mozzarella. Return to oven and continue to bake until the cheese is melted and the chicken registers 160 -165 degrees internally. ( 3 - 5 minutes) Garnish with basil and enjoy!
I am super glad there were leftovers last night, because I know what I am having for lunch today! I was really in awe at how crunchy that breading stayed! Like I said, I WILL be making this dish again. I served it with some whole wheat pasta and some more of the sauce, making the entire dish come in at 13+ points. Not too bad!
I really like to brine my fresh chicken these days. I cannot tell you how much of a difference it makes in texture and taste. Although I have been brining bone in chicken for sometime now, this was the first time I have brined boneless, skinless breasts...and it won't be the last!
How about you? Have you ever brined poultry?