I think one of the most difficult aspects of Winter is the lack of “fresh.” My windows have to stay shut from the months of December to March so I desperately try to avoid that stale smell by using the air freshener plug-ins. Man, are they a life-saver! But they are nothing like the crisp, clean air that is found outside of my doorstep. I also miss the produce that is offered so abundantly in the warmer months. As much as I love cozy, hearty food, sometimes it makes me feel like I’m stuck in a box. Whenever I get into a cold weather funk in the kitchen, I try to incorporate fresh as much as I can. For me, this means herb overload! Herbs are a great way to add a burst of fresh to any dish so you aren’t gasping for air after eating your 100th bowl of chili this Winter season.
Chicken Parmesan will forever be one of my favorite dishes. I don’t know if it’s the crispy, crunchy crust, or the ooey, gooey cheesy goodness, or the tart, sharp tomato sauce. All components seem to work double time, satisfying all the things I crave in one bite. But even Chicken Parm can get old or outdated. Inspired by recent posts by other food bloggers, I decided to give the Chicken Parmesan a wonderfully fresh face lift. Also, I think there is something romantic about having Italian food for Valentine’s Day (just an idea). I’m not selling this as the best Chicken Parmesan you will ever have (there are plenty of legit Italian restaurants that could put me to shame) but it’s pretty delicious for a home-cooked meal. Pesto is added to the delicious toppings of this classic, enhancing the flavor by offering a burst of herby freshness. I also swap out regular Mozzarella (no hurt feelings) with a delightfully smoked Mozzarella (the obsession is real). Salty parmesan isn’t only added to finish this masterpiece off but it is combined with Panko breadcrumbs to give you the crunchiest, cheesiest, Chicken Parmesan you will ever cook! Did I mention this great classic is a one pan plan? We flour, dredge, and bake! It doesn’t get any easier, friends! Also, I think I used my monthly quota of the word “fresh” in this one post. Let’s do this thang!
Our ingredient line up! It doesn’t take much to enhance your pantry items. Here, it’s all about easily accessible ingredients and the seasonings in your spice drawer. We have eggs, flour, chicken cutlets, smoked Mozzarella, pesto, marinara (the jarred stuff), then a delectable mixture of Panko breadcrumbs, parmesan, Italian seasoning, garlic and onion powder, salt, and pepper.
Our dredging station is complete with flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs! It’s as easy as 1,2,3!!!
After the chicken is breaded, we generously grease a baking pan to ensure the crust gets, well, crusty. We also turn over our cutlets half-way through cooking so both sides get crispy! I’m pretty proud of this crispiness if I do say so!
Once the chicken cutlets are done, we get the topping party started. Each cutlet gets a healthy dose of marinara and smoked Mozzarella. The sky is the limit here. Don’t stop until it feels right.
Next, the chicken is dotted with the lovely pesto. Not to go there but it totally looks like Christmas here! Again, you can add as much pesto as you want! Don’t hold back! This amount was definitely not enough for my pesto-loving husband.
The only thing standing between you and a yummy chicken dinner is Parmesan cheese. It IS Chicken Parmesan so now isn’t the time to be frugal with your Parmesan use. It’s as if these cutlets got a little snow dusting (ugh, it’s been Winter for way too long!). These guys get baked until everything is melted. You need to emotionally prepare for the next picture. Your mind is going to explode by all of the deliciousness about to be pictured.
BAM! Now, who wouldn’t be ecstatic to have this made for them for Valentine’s Day, let alone any other day of the week! Enjoy, friends! Happy Chicken Parm making!