Parmesan Chicken Breasts, v. 1

parmesan baked chickenIngredients:

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 egg, whisked with 2 T water
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (or Panko)
1 t garlic powder
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried parsley
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t paprika
1/8 t ground black pepper

Spoon Mage™ Note:

If the chicken breasts are those great huge fat ones, put them in a zip lock bag and whack with a meat mallet until they are evenly sized – they’ll cook faster and stay juicy. Or slice them in half horizontally, making sure that they are even from one end to another. If one end is thin while the other is thick, the thin end will become rather chewy and overdone before the other end cooks.

For a fast work night dinner, skip the breasts that have been working out at the gym. Buy a few normal sized breasts if you can find them. Super thin cutlets are cooked in a different method, so don’t use them here.  Each breast should be somewhere between 1/2 to 1 inch thick. The thinner they are, the faster they will cook, the thicker they are the longer it will take to get dinner on the table.

When you mix egg and water, you are making what is called an egg wash. In this dish the wash is much better than globs of egg that over-moistens the breadcrumbs or Panko.

Work fast if you are using Panko as that stuff is quick to get gooey and sticky! If you use Panko, it is a good idea to only put half the mix on the plate, dip the first two breasts, and then add the rest of the cheesy breadcrumbs.

For another great oven-fried chicken that begins in a spicy marinade, click here.

Directions:

In a wide bowl or on a plate, mix together the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, and seasonings.

Dip chicken pieces into the egg wash and then press the top down firmly into the mixture of cheese and breadcrumbs. Do not pile up the crust mixture. Just quickly press it on evenly, shake off the excess, turn over and press the bottom of each piece into the breadcrumb mix. Gently shake again.

Place the lovely chicken breasts on a plate, leave them uncovered, and find a spot for them in the fridge. Let them sit for 20 minutes. More time is just fine. This introduces the crumbs to the egg wash. Tell them they will have to wait a bit until they agree to sit nicely on the chicken. This reduces the risk of the crispy crumb separating  from the chicken before you slice off a piece.

Heat the oven to 425° F, line a baking dish with foil, and spritz with non-stick spray.

Gently shift the chilled chicken from the plate to the prepared baking dish. Make sure to leave room between the pieces. It is better to use a larger pan than to crowd the chicken. When crowded, the meat will steam instead of roast. The crumb topping will become soggy instead crispy. If you like it that way, go for it and cram those breasts together.

If your chicken breasts are thin, bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Carefully turn the pieces over and bake another 10-15 minutes or until the juices run clear and the Parmesan is a pretty brown.

You can bake the chicken on a wire rack set inside the baking dish and eliminate turning.

Thick chicken pieces may take 30-40 minutes. Keep that in mind when you are timing dinner. Pounding them a little thinner helps speed cooking. A meat mallet is a great inexpensive kitchen tool.

You can skip turning the pieces midway and not concern yourself about the crispiness of the bottom. It will all be good. Foodie gods might not approve, but it will be tasty in spite of them. Your kitchen, your rules.

How long the breasts take to cook will depend upon the thickness of your chicken. The first time you make these, watch them carefully and plan for side dishes that can sit and wait for the chicken. Take care to not overcook chicken or it will squeak like a new leather shoe. We are shooting for fork tender.

Let the chicken sit for a couple minutes after removing them from the oven. This is the perfect time to set out the salads. Enjoy.

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