Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Healthier chicken parmesan

Pretty much anything becomes magically delicious when you top it with tomato sauce and cheese. Chicken breasts are no exception.

I have a trick that I use to slash calories from any kind of breaded cutlet: I only bread one side and serve it breaded side up. Of course I use almond meal rather than conventional crumbs, which are low-carb but pretty calorically dense, so this helps quite a bit. I have used this trick for all kinds of cutlets and no one ever suspects a thing! It also means you need less cooking oil, since you don't need as much for the un-breaded side. I put olive oil in a spray bottle and spray the crumbs as well as the pan so it is nonstick, crispy, but still non-greasy. Some people just bake their cutlets but I think that almond meal becomes mushy when baked so I prefer this compromise.

I prefer to quickly broil my chicken parmesan and serve it right away rather than baking it as a casserole. I think that the breading becomes soggy if it sits under the tomato sauce for too long. If you prefer, you can nuke the tomato sauce for 30 seconds or so before spreading it on the chicken to be sure that it is heated through.

Serves about 4

  • 4 thin-sliced chicken breast cutlets, or 2 thick ones pounded thin and halved crosswise
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce (I made my own)
  • 1 egg, beaten or 1/4 cup liquid egg whites (I actually prefer whites only, I think it gets a bit crispier)
  • 1/4 cup almond meal or almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt or regular salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried Italian herb mix or dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • About 1/2 cup (you might use less) shredded mozzarella cheese (full-fat or 2%)
  • 2 Tbs grated parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Combine the almond meal, 1/4 tsp salt, dried herbs, and garlic powder on a plate. Put the beaten egg or egg whites in a shallow bowl.
  3. Dip one side of the chicken breasts in the egg, then the almond meal, shaking off the excess each time. Almond meal likes to clump up so be sure to knock off excess so that you have a thin, even coating.
  4. Heat a layer of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Spray or brush the breaded side of the cutlets with a thin layer of oil as well. Cook breaded-side down until crisp and browned. Flip cutlets, adding more oil if necessary. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until juices run clear and chicken is no longer pink. You can cover for part of the time if you would like, though if you do so you might have to re-sear the breaded side for a minute to crisp it back up.
  5. Heat the broiler. Meanwhile, arrange chicken breasts breaded side up on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Top each with a tablespoon of tomato sauce, a layer of mozzarella, and about 1/2 Tbs parmesan. Broil for about 2 minutes or until golden brown, keeping an eye on it to be sure they don't burn. Serve immediately, passing crushed red pepper flakes and extra parmesan on the side.


Juliet said...

breading one side is SUCH a good idea! The bottom half always gets mushy and sloshes off anyway - how WOULD anyone know?!

Erica said...

Haha right?? I don't miss the extra breading at all!

Lori said...

Wow, that is a smart idea, I need to try the breading on one side thing too!! Thanks for the suggestion!!

Erica said...

@Lori: Definitely give it a shot, no one ever figures it out!

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