I just looked at this title and realized it sounds like some weird thing I’m asking you to do every day. If you eat chicken parm every day you’ll…get really tired of chicken parm? Buy a chicken farm (a chicken parm farm!) to save trips to the grocery store? Always know what’s for dinner? What I really meant to say was that this is not a fancy dish, either from a preparation or looks standpoint. It’s just everyday family comfort food, perfect for when you need a hearty dinner in about 45 minutes and you don’t want to stand at the stove frying multiple chicken breasts for everyone. In fact, there’s no frying in this recipe. Instead the chicken is cut up, seasoned, and baked in the oven while the pasta cooks simultaneously in a skillet on the stove. Everything is coordinated to be finished at almost precisely the same time. One small bowl, one oven-proof skillet, one baking sheet.
Dunk the chicken pieces in egg/milk mixture and throw them in a big zipper bag with the seasoning mix. Shake it around and it’s ready for baking. You can spray it with some olive oil spray if you want before you bake it. Some people think this makes it browner and crispier, but it doesn’t help much in my opinion. I’m leaving that up to you.
Immediately after the chicken slides into the oven, start making the pasta. Pour the water in the large, oven-proof skillet, add all the sauce except ½ cup, and stir in the pasta. Put a lid on it! I mean the skillet-it needs to be covered. Improvise with a pizza pan if you don’t have a lid.
This might seem like an unorthodox way to cook pasta, but it works. Just make certain you stir it around so it all gets cooked evenly. The sauce will thicken up as it cooks. By the time the chicken gets out of the oven (keep the oven door closed after removing the chicken to retain the heat) the pasta should be done or pretty close-within a minute or two. Test it to make sure it’s the way you like it. Heat the other ½ cup sauce in the microwave briefly.
Put the chicken all over the top of the pasta, and pour the remaining ½ cup sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with the mozzarella.
Now we’re ready for the good stuff. Pop that skillet in the still-warm oven and let that ooey-gooey mozzarella melt all over the place.
It doesn’t take long-maybe 3 or 4 minutes-and this melty, baked-not-fried, dish is ready to feed at least 6 hearty appetites, maybe more, depending on how your crew eats.
Feel free to adjust the amounts of sauce (add more if you really like it saucy) and to use either jarred- which is what I used-or homemade. Use more mozzarella if you prefer extra cheese-and who doesn’t? I’ve used both bowtie and penne in this-use the one you prefer.
Feeding a smaller group? Reduce the amount of chicken and pasta by half. Cut the sauce by a third.
I hope you enjoy this simple pasta dish often. Maybe not every day, but often.
Everyday Chicken Parm
- ½ c. regular dry bread crumbs
- ¼ c. panko bread crumbs
- ¼ c. finely shredded real parmesan cheese (not the kind in the can)
- 1 Tbs. Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 c. water
- 1 24 oz. jar spaghetti sauce or 2 1/2 cups homemade spaghetti sauce
- 4 c. penne or bowtie pasta
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbs. milk
- 1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
- 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Step 2 Spray a large, rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray and set aside.
- Step 3 Into a gallon size zipper bag measure bread crumbs, panko crumbs, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt. Close the bag and shake to mix.
- Step 4 In a medium bowl whisk the egg and milk.
- Step 5 Dump all the chicken chunks into the egg mixture and stir around.
- Step 6 Place the chicken in the zipper bag with the seasoning. Close the bag and shake to coat the chicken.
- Step 7 Pour the chicken out on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Spray the chicken with olive oil or canola oil spray, (aids browning, but minimally) if desired.
- Step 8 Bake for 15-17 minutes, turning the chicken over halfway through the baking time. While the chicken bakes, prepare the pasta.
- Step 9 In a large, oven-proof, 12-inch skillet pour 2 cups of water. Turn the burner to medium high.
- Step 10 Stir in all the spaghetti sauce except for ½ cup. Set the ½ cup aside. Stir in the pasta.
- Step 11 Cover with lid (use a pizza pan or a double layer of tin foil if you don’t have a lid) and bring to a boil.
- Step 12 Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking while chicken bakes, stirring often to prevent sticking.
- Step 13 When chicken is baked, remove from oven and turn the oven off, but keep the door closed to retain the heat.
- Step 14 Check the pasta to see if it’s the way you like it. Stir and continue cooking a minute or two more if necessary. Remove from heat.
- Step 15 Heat the remaining ½ cup sauce in the microwave.
- Step 16 Arrange the chicken over the pasta and drizzle the remaining ½ cup sauce over the chicken.
- Step 17 Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and place in the still-hot oven to melt, 3-4 minutes.