Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Guilt-Free Chicken Parm

First, let me just say a few words about Top Chef. I've been a slacker, I admit. All I have to say is this: it should be a HUGE clue to people who watch the show that you can telegraph who is getting the boot simply from seeing whether or not they decide to "show their versatility" by making dessert. Coincidence that the last 2 cheftestants to get the boot have tried their hand at dessert? I think not.

I love chicken parm, there's no getting around it. I eat it so rarely because there's not much worse for you than deep-fried chicken cutlets smothered in salty tomato sauce and gooey cholesterol-laden mozzarella cheese. Comfort food is great, but I always feel so guilty after eating a chicken parm sandwich, I just feel absolutely weighed down with grease and salt and blah. Fortunately, I've got a killer recipe for a lighter chicken parm that has all the taste, without any of the guilt. Stephanie and I housed this tonight, without even breaking a sweat. I also made some Barilla Plus spaghetti and tossed it with some of the leftover sauce. Delicious.

Lighter Chicken Parm
For the sauce:
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
dash red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp minced fresh basil

For the chicken:
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (with more for serving)
1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 egg whites
2 tsp water
vegetable oil spray
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved into cutlets
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/2 tbsp minced fresh basil

Preheat to 475.

Puree the diced tomatoes (with juice) in a miniprep until...well...pureed. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil then cook the tomato paste, garlic and red pepper flakes until slightly brown, about 2 minutes. Pour in the pureed tomatoes and stir and cook until thickened, about 20-25 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper.

While the sauce is cooking, combine the breadcrumbs and oil in a large skillet and toast over medium, stirring until golden. Spread the breadcrumbs in a dish and cool. Stir in Parmesan. In another dish, combine flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper. In another dish, whisk together egg whites and water. Dip the chicken cutlets in flour mixture, then egg mixture and then breadcrumb mixture. Put on a rack over a baking sheet (sprayed with vegetable oil spray) and spray tops of chicken with...well...the spray. Bake for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven, spread some sauce on the top of each piece, and top with shredded cheese. Put back in the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese is all bubbly. Finish with basil and Parmesan and serve with spaghetti. Delicious.