Sunday, November 9, 2014

Panko Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Now that the weather is starting to cool down and the grills are getting put into storage, it's time to start looking for new ways to reinvent everyone's go to dinner: chicken.  It's definitely one of the healthiest, cheapest, fastest and most versatile cuts of meat to prepare, but it also tends to be boring if it isn't prepared well.  I've been making this panko parmesan crusted chicken since last winter, and I still don't get sick of it!  Tender boneless, skinless chicken breasts coated in a flavorful panko and parmesan spice mixture, then sauteed until golden brown on the cooktop and finished in the oven to give it an added perfect.  And still versatile.  I've served this chicken over a mixed green salad with apples and walnuts, with some pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese on top for an awesome chicken parmesan, and I've even coated it in buffalo sauce to make buffalo chicken sandwiches.  This past weekend, I served the panko parmesan chicken with sweet potatoes and a side salad with freshly toasted walnuts.  It just never gets old!

I started with 2 large chicken breasts, and divided each of them in half so my recipe could make 4 servings.  I placed each piece between a layer of plastic wrap and flattened it using an ice cream scoop.  Not only does flattening the chicken help it cook evenly on the cooktop, but it also gives the chicken more surface area for panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, which is the tastiest part of the whole recipe!

After I pounded the chicken out, I seasoned each piece generously with salt and pepper on both sides to ensure it has plenty of flavor.  I then placed the flour, egg and panko bread crumbs in dishes for dipping, and added grated parmesan, garlic powder, basil and oregano to the bread crumbs for an added zest.  I just love the flavor the parmesan gets when it's browned on the stove!

I dipped the chicken first in the flour, then in the egg, then in the panko parmesan mixture.  It's really important to do all 3 of these steps because dipping the ingredients in this order ensures that the bread crumbs will stick to the chicken once you put them in the olive oil on the stove.  There's nothing worse than sheets of bread crumbs falling off the chicken when you try to flip them!

I placed 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once it was hot, I added the chicken breasts to the pan.  Make sure the skillet is hot enough that you hear sizzling right away when you place the chicken in the oil; that's the chicken letting you know that it's going to get a super crunchy crust!  I cooked the chicken on the first side for about 5 minutes until a golden crust formed on each piece, then I flipped it over and cooked it until the second side was the same golden brown color.  The second side should take slightly less time than the first side, so keep an eye on it!

The chicken looks fabulous at this point...but DON'T EAT IT.  It looks completely done on the outside, but the inside is only about 2/3 cooked.  In order to fully cook the center of the chicken on the cooktop, it would get burned on the outside, so I transfer the chicken to a baking sheet and put it in the oven.  Since the crust is already cooked, it acts as a seal, locking in the moisture of the chicken without burning.

I like to line the baking sheet with aluminum foil...the less there is to clean afterwards, the better!  I cooked the chicken for about 12-15 minutes longer, and made sure to cut open a piece to make sure the center was cooked through.

It was perfect with my toasted walnut salad and sweet potato with some cinnamon and brown sugar.  YUM.

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