I made this dish for dinner.
I’d been craving pasta with red sauce. I wanted meat too and I wanted it to be something other than ground beef. I settled on chicken. I googled a recipe using the search term, easy chicken parmigiana, and the recipe below appeared. It looked good and it looked easy so I gave it a try.
It was absolutely incredible and it truly was oh, so effortless. Kyle and I couldn’t get enough!
The chicken was moist and flavorful, the tomato sauce was scrumptious and the fresh basil gave it just the right burst of flavor.
I had to tell my friend Elizabeth about my creation. “Wow Linds, that sounds really good,” she said. “I’m wondering though if you can really call it chicken parmigiana, if when cooked, you didin’t have to lightly bread and fry? Doesn’t parmigiana refer to this particular technique?” she asked.
It was a good question.
I decided to look up the definition. It read, Parmigiana is a Southern Italian dish made with a shallow-fried sliced filling, layered with cheese and tomato sauce, then baked. Parmigiana made with a filling of eggplant is the earliest version. Variations made with breaded meat cutlets, such as veal and chicken, have been popularized in other countries.
Elizabeth was right.
I don’t really have the right to coin this dish chicken parmigiana because nothing in it is lightly breaded or fried. In fact, that’s why I like this recipe so much (and no, it’s not because it means less fat and calories). It cuts out all of the normal, taxing leg work that’s involved in the making of traditional parmigiana. This is a simplified version of the real deal that still results in goodness.
I should note that my recipe calls for the use of a jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce.
Now many of you reading this may have just scoffed at what I wrote, I want to invite you to reconsider.
I grew up enjoying noodles that were covered with Ragu. It was my family’s spaghetti sauce of choice.
It’s a super simple sauce. It’s low in acidity and just slightly sweet. It’s a light sauce. It’s not weighed down by big hunks of tomatoes or by heavy amounts of Italian seasoning (in fact, you can doctor it up however you choose) like Prego, the type of sauce I despised all throughout childhood.
I have to confess that although all of this is true, there was a time in life when I did abandon what I most enjoyed.
California is a sophisticated state. Trader Joe’s, a grocery store that prides itself on simple, doesn’t carry spaghetti sauce that’s not loaded down with all sorts of chunky tomatoes and seasonings. Most of my friends make their sauce from scratch, using real tomatoes and fresh herbs from their garden.
I guess sometime after I moved to California I made some unconscious decision that I needed to become sophisticated too, even if it meant letting go of my beloved Ragu.
It’d been years since I’d bought a jar. Once I switched, I switched. I’d convinced myself that a more upscale spaghetti sauce was really me. It wasn’t until Kyle and I were talking one night that things changed.
The topic, you guessed it, spaghetti sauce. I asked him if he had a favorite and his reply was Ragu. Instantly I was excited and the very next day I went out and bought a jar.
If you’ve made it this far you may be thinking that this is a lot of talk for it just being about a sauce, but hopefully you’ve realized that this was about something more.
See, I gave up being who I was for the sake of being who I thought I should be. I didn’t stay true to myself. Now this doesn’t mean we don’t try new things and change, because that’s a good thing, but in this case that wasn’t the issue. I was forcing myself to be someone I wasn’t and that’s never a good thing.
I do hope you get to try this recipe too. I’ve made it twice now (each time using the sauce I prefer!), and have added it to my repertoire. May you be blessed with the freedom to just be Y-O-U, using whatever sauce you choose!
Easy Chicken Parmigiana
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 jar Ragu spaghetti sauce
1/2 c fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 t garlic powder
1 t salt
1 t pepper
fresh basil leaves, julianned
fresh italian parsley, julianned
Cut excess fat away from chicken and cut each breast into 3 smaller pieces.
Place pieces in large ziplock bag or between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound until about 1/2 inch thick. Remove from bag or wrap, place on piece of parchment paper and season both sides of chicken with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Pour half jar of sauce into large glass or ceramic baking dish, mix in 1/4 c parmesan cheese. Place chicken breasts on top of sauce (making sure they don’t totally overlap) and cover with other half jar of sauce.
Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, then sprinkle remaining 1/4 c parmesan cheese on top and cook for additional 5 minutes (or until center of chicken is no longer pink, you may need to cut into it to check). Remove from oven, let cool and top with fresh basil and parsley. Serve over a bed of pasta.
**Pictures were taken by ME!