Friday, May 21, 2010

A Healthier Chicken Parm

I really liked this. I first experimented with this a few weeks ago. Instead of frying breaded chicken cutlets in oil, I put them on the grill pan. It worked! The flavor is good. The texture is crispy, but light. And most of all, the chicken doesn't feel heavy, oily or otherwise weighed down my oil. Don't get me wrong, I love some fried goodness, but I wanted to try a healthier alternative. Let's get started.

A Lighter Chicken Parmesan

To get started, you need to prep your coating for the chicken. Use large plates or pans to help with preventing too much mess. You need three plates. Plate 1: seasoned flour. I use regular white flour, plus salt, pepper, ground oregano, garlic powder and some cayenne pepper. This will dry the chicken and give the coating something to stick to! Plate 2: eggs, whisked with a wee touch of water. The egg needs to stick to the flour. In turn, the eggs helps the outer coating to stick. Plate 3: the breading. For this application, I used two types of bread crumbs. Traditional plain breadcrumbs and Japanese-style Panko breadcrumbs. I did this for one reason; since I'm not frying these in oil, I want to make the coating as crunchy as possible. The panko help with that. Since panko are more expensive than regular, I used a mix to help spread the wealth as it were. Season the breadcrumbs with a variety of herbs; an Italian blend or use basil, parsley, thyme, savory, oregano. Or use something completely different, whatever you like.

To coat the chicken, pat them dry with a paper towel, dip in the flour and coat all sides, dip in the egg and coat all sides then dip into the breadcrumbs and press down on all sides to get a nice hearty coating on the chicken.

Now to cooking. I used a grill pan. No oil, just get the grill pan nice and hot over a medium-high flame. Gently lay the coated chicken cutlets on the pan and cook for a few minutes per side. Lift gently to take a peak on the underside. You're going to start to see grill marks and a nice golden color.

The first side is done. Finish the next side. In this particular instance, I wasn't concerned about the chicken being cooked through as it was going to go in the oven for up to 10 minutes, and will finish cooking there. If you are not using the oven, lower the heat and let the chicken cook an extra few minutes per side to cook all the way through. You need to lower the heat or you will end up with scorched coating and a raw interior.

When the chicken was browned, I placed on a baking sheet and spooned on some leftover red sauce from the other night, and sprinkled on the parm.

Place some mozzarella cheese on top and place in the oven. I did about 5-7 minutes in a 350 degree oven to finish cooking the chicken and melt the cheese. For the last 2-3 minutes I put the chicken under the broiler to make the cheese bubbly and golden brown. If you really want to make this a lighter, healthier chicken parm, use less cheese, use a fat free cheese, whatever you like. I happened to have the grocery store, part skim mozz. It was good. If I was being decadent, I would have gotten some fresh mozz and used that. All good. Use what you like.

Wonderful! Flavor and texture are wonderful. You still get the cheese goodness, but with a lighter tasting, extra-crunchy chicken. Yeah!


DancerInDC said...

Doing it this way, the chicken isn't drowning in sauce, and you can use as much cheese as you prefer. We did serve some extra sauce on the side to spoon on as you prefer.

You can certainly do a side of pasta, but based on my appetite that wasn't necessary.

A little salad would be good, too.

baby cribs said...

When the cheese melts, it's heaven! I like the photo of this recipe!