So by now, you like many of the divorced dads out there should have tackled chicken, but you want to do something a little more impressive when you cook for your kids than just perfectly cooked meat.

That’s boring, right? Where’s the wow factor? How do we bring it up a level? I’m here to help.

Hold on to your butt, because you’re about to make chicken parmesan, and the techniques you learn here will open up even more possibilities for you down the road. Let’s begin.

Chicken Parmesan

What you’ll need: 3 pie pans, one baking sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper)

  • 1 boneless/skinless chicken breast (or more if cooking for your kids)
  • 1-1 ½ cup panko bread crumbs (more for kids)
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp water, beaten
  • ¼ cup cornstarch (heaping for kids)
  • Dry basil
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 cloves freshly minced garlic (or garlic powder if you must)
  • Fry pan on medium heat
  • ½ cup or more extra light olive oil
  • 1 jar pasta sauce (whatever you like is fine)
  • Thin spaghetti
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped

Start by preheating your oven to 375°F and laying the chicken breast on your cutting board and making sure it’s nice and flat (do not pound it!). Take a fillet knife and, keeping it parallel to the board, gently slice the chicken down its length, keeping the two pieces as equally thick as possible. Congratulations, you have learned butterflying! (Normally, the two halves would be attached on one side, but this is not especially helpful to us, so skip it,)

Lay out your breading ingredients in the 3 pie tins (or bag + whatever combination) and put half of the minced garlic into the egg wash. Salt and pepper both sides of each piece, sprinkle on some dry basil and cover with cornstarch, making sure to get in every crevice. If you’re using a pie pan, this can get messy, so I’d recommend the bag method. You can put both pieces in at once. Shake off any excess and move each piece one at a time to the egg wash you made, coating thoroughly. Now it’s time to cover the eggy chicken in the bread crumbs and get ready to fry.

Make sure to give the oil plenty of time to heat up. This is important, because the oil is supposed to be a heat conductor, not an ingredient and if it’s not hot enough, it’s going to soak into the breading and you’ll end up with greasy breadcrumbs. Not cool. Medium heat or just above is perfect for this application. Just make sure to pay attention when you put in the chicken, as the browning will happen fast. You’re looking for the same golden brown you see in the fast food commercials and it happens pretty quick. Flip with tongs (or a spatula if you don’t care about splash back) and once the other side is browned, remove to your sheet pan.

Just make sure to pay attention when you put in the chicken, as the browning will happen fast. You’re looking for the same golden brown you see in the fast food commercials and it happens pretty quick. Flip with tongs (or a spatula if you don’t care about splash back) and once the other side is browned, remove to your sheet pan.

Now it’s time for cheese. For best results, you’ll want to use fresh-grated parmesan, but bagged will do okay. Believe it or not, the best grate I’ve gotten for this recipe is with a lemon zester (one of those long ones you see in the cookware aisle). It comes off really fine and melts beautifully. Pile it on high, over as much of the chicken pieces as you can, cause it’ll melt down like crazy. You can sprinkle on some fresh herbs if you like at this point. The moisture from the cheese will prevent burning. Place the chicken in the oven and attend to the sauce and pasta.

Pile it on high, over as much of the chicken pieces as you can, cause it’ll melt down like crazy. You can sprinkle on some fresh herbs if you like at this point. The moisture from the cheese will prevent burning. Place the chicken in the oven and attend to the sauce and pasta.

Spaghetti Is A No Brainer to Cook For Your Kids

Thin spaghetti cooks quicker than you think it will pretty much every time, so the best way to manage the stuff is to make sure your pot is just coming to a light boil by the time you put the chicken in the oven. At this point, throw in a couple of heavy pinches of salt (just barely more than you think you need) and it’ll be ready to go by the time your hands are free again. Stick the pasta in (if you’re cooking for kids, this would be the best point to break up the noodles) and if you’ve got a timer, set it for 7 minutes. When the pasta is ready to check, just taste it. No throwing against the wall. That’s over, you’re a grown up now. Drain when ready and replace in

Stick the pasta in (if you’re cooking for kids, this would be the best point to break up the noodles) and if you’ve got a timer, set it for 7 minutes. When the pasta is ready to check, just taste it. No throwing against the wall. That’s over, you’re a grown up now.

Drain when ready and replace in the pot,  off the heat. By now your sauce should be ready too, so turn the heat off on that.

Pull the chicken out of the oven and get ready to plate.

Ways to Change It Up

There are many, just barely different interpretations of chicken parmesan. Some use mozzarella, some require covering the chicken in sauce before you put the cheese on. This method is designed for efficiency in a kid-friendly kitchen. When you plate, you’ll see why. Start by spicing up the pasta. A little extra virgin olive oil, some fresh herbs, the rest of the garlic and toss. Plate that up on one side of the plate and on the other, put the sauce in a pool (mind you’ a very shallow one). Next, slice the chicken. Bite sized pieces for kids. Even, long slices for um, anybody else. ( You can cook for your kids – and ggrown-up guests, too.) Lay the pieces on the sauce, sprinkle with some extra parmesan and serve the awesomeness.

When you plate, you’ll see why. Start by spicing up the pasta. A little extra virgin olive oil, some fresh herbs, the rest of the garlic and toss. Plate that up on one side of the plate and on the other, put the sauce in a pool (mind you’ a very shallow one). Next, slice the chicken. Bite sized pieces for kids. Even, long slices for, um, anybody else. Lay the pieces on the sauce, sprinkle with some extra parmesan and serve the awesomeness.

You’re Now A Cooking Rock Star

Now that you know how to do this, you know how to make a whole bunch of other things. This was the big one to cook for your kids, the one that leads to all the others. You can now replace seasonings and make chicken strips, chicken nuggets, use Asian seasonings and sauces to make any number of dishes with noodles, rice or vegetables. You can use this breading method for fish

You can now replace seasonings and make chicken strips, chicken nuggets, use Asian seasonings and sauces to make any number of dishes with noodles, rice or vegetables. You can use this breading method for fish

You can use this breading method for fish, too, if that’s your thing. Frying chicken is an essential skill when you have kids. You have to learn this,

Frying chicken is an essential skill when you have kids. You have to learn this, because frozen nuggets, while fine, are not what your kids will remember or (ahem), anybody else for that matter. The versatility of breaded and fried chicken is legendary, as I’m sure you know.

Now you know how to do it yourself. So go nuts! Try everything from soy sauce marinade to breading and frying vegetables (watch the kids try turning up their noses at that!). You learned this recipe to unlock all the other recipes, so go explore.


(c) Can Stock Photo / GeorgeRudy

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