Baked Chicken "Parmesan"

I mentioned the other day about my purchase of both plastic vegan "cheddar" and "mozzarella."  This time I used the alleged moz to make a kosher *gasp* chicken "parmesan."  Why is it called "parmesan" anyway when the main or only cheese used is mozzarella? Isn't it more descriptive to say "chicken mozzarella?" But I digress ...

Found a can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes while reaching into the pantry for the diced variety, so I made my fast sauce with it instead.  Except this time I left out the basil because it's too hot to go outside to pick some, and omitted the pasta cooking water since I'm not serving pasta this time around.

I added a teaspoon of sugar, because, while googling researching various chicken parmesan recipes,  I noticed that most cooks add a little sugar to their sauces.  I tried it but really didn't notice a difference, so it's omitted from the recipe below.  I cooked it a little longer to thicken it up (or reduce it down, same difference).  Go look at my sauce-revisited post to see the photos, then come back.  I'll wait.

You will not use up the entire 3/4 cup of bread crumbs.  The excess quarter-cup makes it easier to bread the chicken.  If you try to use only 1/2 cup, you will find yourself scraping up moist bread crumbs from the plate and smooshing it onto the last breast and generally making yourself crazy.

Baked Chicken "Parmesan"
Serves 6

Two packages (3 each) or one family package of skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
One batch very easy pasta sauce, use fire-roasted crushed tomatoes and omit basil
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
3/4 cup flavored dried bread crumbs
1 (8 oz.) pkg. shredded parve mozzarella "cheese"

Start up the pasta sauce.  When you are up to the part about letting it reduce down, let it reduce down while you continue with the rest of this recipe.

Place one chicken breast in a food storage bag (do not seal said bag).  Using a mallet or small heavy sauce pan, pound the breast flat.  This step is important, because it tenderizes the breast and allows it cooks more evenly.  Plus it's good exercise and lets you get out your aggressions in a socially acceptable manner. Remove the breast from the bag and set breast aside.  Repeat with the remaining breasts

In a medium size bowl, lightly beat the eggs.  On a large plate, place the bread crumbs.  Dip each breast (chicken, not yours) in the egg, lift to let the excess drip off for a couple seconds, then place the egged breast on the crumbs.  Press lightly to make the crumbs adhere, then flip breast  over and coat the other side.  Repeat with the remaining breasts.

Heat a large skillet over a medium flame.  When hot, add the olive oil, wait 10 seconds, then arrange the chicken in the skillet without overlapping (if necessary, cook in two batches).

Sear for about 4 minutes (or until browned), then flip the breasts and sear another 4 minutes or until the downward side is browned as well (the chicken will still be a pink on the inside).

Preheat oven to 400F.  

 Shmear about two-thirds of the sauce evenly on the bottom of a roasting pan, or any baking pan that can hold the chicken in a single layer.

Arrange the breasts in a single layer over the sauce.

Spoon the remaining sauce evenly over the chicken.

Then evenly mound the pretend "cheese" over each piece.

Place pan in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until "cheese" has melted and starts to brown, and the chicken is cooked through.  BTW, see the browned bits of melted "cheese" on the bottom of the pan?  The browning and crisping turned the chemicals "cheese" into something very delish! 

Scrape the browned "heese" bits off the bottom of the pan and sprinkle onto the plated chicken.  Serve with your favorite veggie or pasta.


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