When I need some comfort food and a quick meal I think of Chicken Parmesan.  You can’t beat the taste of crispy panko breaded chicken with melted mozzarella alongside spaghetti topped with the tastiest marinara sauce.  Most marinara sauces are made from canned tomatoes but I like to use fresh tomatoes when I can.  There’s just something special about fresh tomato sauce with fresh herbs.  This is also a frugal meal as I can make a meal for 4 using just one chicken breast.  Don’t worry, no one goes away hungry.  A hunk of french bread and a salad makes this a complete meal.


For the marinara sauce you’ll need fresh tomatoes, chopped onion, sliced mushrooms, minced garlic, fresh herbs,white wine, chicken broth, tomato paste, Aleppo pepper, sugar, salt and pepper.


In a large skillet, drizzle some olive oil and toss in your onions to saute.


When they begin to soften, add in the mushrooms.  Continue cooking until mushrooms begin to release their juices.


Add the minced garlic and cook for about 15 seconds then add 1/4 cup of white wine.  Stir the veggies and let the wine cook reduce down, about a minute or two.


I used Campari tomatoes which are medium in size.  I sliced them in two and dumped them into the pan along with the veggies.


Pour in a cup of chicken stock and let the tomatoes cook down.


When the tomatoes have cooked down, use a potato masher to crush them.  Add a can of tomato paste to thicken the sauce.


I wanted a smoother sauce so I used my hand blender right in the pan and blended the crushed tomatoes and veggies into a smoother sauce.  Next I added the herbs, Aleppo pepper, sugar, salt and pepper.


Stir the pot and let it simmer for a few minutes. Start the water to boil for the spaghetti.


While the sauce is simmering combine panko crumbs with 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Mix together with your hands.


Take a large chicken breast and slice in half vertically.  A large chicken breast will make 4 good sized portions.


Pound them out with a meat mallet.  Then slice each piece in half.


In another bowl whisk an egg and run each piece of chicken through the egg wash and then into the panko parmesan mix.  Dredge on both sides.


Place the four pieces of chicken into a hot cast iron skillet with enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Cook over medium high heat until the chicken browns on the bottom. Then turn over to cook the other side.  These thin pieces should cook quickly, a few minutes on each side.


Perfectly browned and crisp on each side.  Add a slice or two of fresh mozzarella on top of each piece of crisp chicken.


Assemble an oven proof plate with spaghetti topped with marinara sauce.  Add a piece of chicken with fresh mozzarella and pop into the broiler oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.


A hunk of french bread with garlic butter tastes oh so good alongside chicken parmesan.


Chicken Parmesan with Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce

1 large Chicken Breast
6 – 8 slices Fresh Mozzarella
1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 Egg, whisked
1 lb package Spaghetti
1 (16 ounce) pack of Campari Tomatoes, sliced in half (can sub Cherry Tomatoes)
1/2 Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 (8 ounce) package Baby Bella Mushrooms
1/4 cup White Wine
1 cup Chicken Stock
1 (6 ounce) can Tomato Paste
3 tablespoons Fresh Basil, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon Fresh Parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Fresh Thyme, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Drizzle olive oil and add onion.  Saute onion a few minutes then add the mushrooms.  Continue to saute until vegetables another minute or two, then stir in garlic to cook 15 seconds more.  Add white wine to pan and scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up any stuck on bits.  Add the tomatoes and chicken broth and let tomatoes cook until they break down.  Crush the tomatoes with a potato masher in the skillet. Stir in the can of tomato paste and blend the sauce in a blender or use a hand blender to make a smoother sauce. Add herbs, sugar, salt and pepper.  Let simmer.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions.

Slice the chicken breast in half vertically.  Pound out the pieces, then cut them in half again.  In a medium bowl, make a breading of Panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.  In another bowl whisk the egg.  Run each chicken piece through the egg wash on both sides then through the breadcrumb mixture.

Heat a skillet with just enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  When the oil is good and hot, add each piece of chicken to the pan.  Cook over medium high heat for 2 – 3 minutes or until the breading is crisp and browned on the bottom.  Flip the chicken pieces over to cook the other side an additional 2 – 3 minutes.

Assemble an ovenproof plate with spaghetti and marinara sauce.  Top a piece of chicken with a slice or two of fresh mozzarella and place in the oven on the broiler setting.  Broil just long enough to melt the cheese.  Serve with a side salad and hunk of french bread.

Serves 4