Chow! It’s time for our weekly culinary quest! Last week we cooked up cool couscous salad. This week we travel to Italy for food so good all you’ll need to go with it is a nap, seriously.
One of my favorite things in the whole wide world of food is quality marinara. However, I cannot stomach paying exorbitant restaurant prices for simple noodles and sauce. On the other hand, I find store-bought, jarred sauce to be mass-produced tasting with undesirable ingredients lurking on the label. So I set out on a quest to make it myself.
My husband says the same thing every time after this meal, I need a nap. My teen son calls it a tranquilizer dart dinner for the same reason. 🙂
Two things to mentions about this recipe: #1 – The sauce is thick. That’s because, when serving a breaded meat like chicken with a runny sauce, the breading gets soggy. Eww. This thick sauce leaves the chicken alone and makes for a nice crunch of chicken with every bite.
#2 – Speaking of crunch, the reason why I cut the chicken into strips is the crunch to chicken ratio. I could’ve left the chicken breast whole, but for one, that’s a lot of chicken!, and two, there isn’t much crunch. Cutting it into strips makes the chicken go farther (yeah! economical!) and there is more panko to enjoy. All this talk is making me hungry, so let’s get to it!
This recipe isn’t difficult to make. Just know you’ll have 3 things cooking at the same time. 🙂
Pasta Marinara with Parmesan Panko Chicken
1# box thin spaghetti
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1box Italian Panko bread crumbs
1/4t black pepper
1t garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1/2c parmesan cheese; grated (or Romano)
2 x 28oz cans petite diced tomatoes; slightly drained
12oz tomato paste
6 fresh garlic cloves; crushed
1 bunch fresh basil; chopped
2t dried oregano
1/4t salt (plus more for the pasta water)
4T olive oil (plus more for frying)
In a large skillet, empty both cans of tomatoes (slightly drained) & tomato paste. Add 2T olive oil, crushed garlic, salt, oregano & basil. Stir until blended.
Cook on medium, stirring to prevent scorching, until water from tomatoes cooks off and sauce thickens. Let this simmer covered on low, stirring occasionally, while chicken and noodles are being prepared.
Pour flour into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag.
Crack eggs in gallon Ziploc bag, mush the bag until mixed.
Pour box of Panko, parmesan cheese, pepper and garlic powder into another gallon Ziploc bag. Shake together.
Rinse chicken under water. Trim any fat. Cut each chicken breast into 4 strips.
Coat the chicken fillets, one at a time: first in the flour, then the egg, then shake egg-coated chicken in Panko bag.
Place chicken on a lightly greased, foil covered 9×13 dish.
Bake @ 350 20 minutes until done.
Remove chicken and place in hot skillet (4-6 at a time) with olive oil. Fry all sides using a Diavola press. If you do not have a Diavola press, try using the bottom of a clean, weighty sauce pan. The frying only takes a couple of minutes because the chicken is already cooked.
Cook box of spaghetti noodles al dente (10 min in boiling, salted water). Drain, mix with 2T olive oil to keep noodles from sticking together.
On plate- layer noodles, then sauce, then Panko chicken on top.
Here, the chicken is raw. I put the chicken strips in a slightly greased 9×13 dish so they are close together and won’t dry out in the oven.
Just enough hot olive oil to fry
Time to enjoy!