Many moons ago, when our kids were still at home (as a point of reference, the youngest is now 29), our lives were crazy busy. Sometimes I wonder how we kept up with it all!
One of the ways we tried to keep things better organized was to spend some time during the weekend planning for the week, which also included sketching out dinner menus. Once we had mapped out everyone’s afternoon and evening commitments — rehearsal and track practice, quiz team, tennis matches and so on — we would figure out for how many nights we needed something available that everyone could eat when it best suited them, and then we would often make something on Sunday that would yield plenty of leftovers. Sometimes, on a random Sunday, nowhere near Thanksgiving, we would roast a turkey with stuffing and gravy. Other times, I’d make a big pot of stew. And one of the kids’ favorites was when we would cook up a whole pile of chicken Parmesan.
It definitely takes a bit of time to set up with “assembly line” for coating the chicken, so it is worth it to make a lot at once. While I do admit it is most tasty when freshly made, leftover cutlets can easily be reheated for subsequent meals. Besides serving it with a side of pasta, our kids would often warm a cutlet (or two, they were big eaters) and make a sandwich. Sometimes, we would not add the sauce and cheese on some of the cutlets, which we could cut up and put on a salad to make it a meal. You can even make your sandwich with plain cutlets and some interesting sauce, perhaps a mayonnaise and barbecue sauce combo, which is a favorite of our youngest. Many possibilities make for much meal flexibility in a busy week!
Serves 2-4, can be doubled to provide leftovers!
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 large egg
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup canola oil, plus more as needed
1 cup tomato sauce, plus more if serving with pasta
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally to make thinner cutlets. One at a time, place each piece between plastic wrap, wax paper, or in a plastic zipper bag, and pound lightly to an even thickness. (In some stores, you can ask the butcher to do this for you.)
Place both types of breadcrumbs, salt, garlic powder, and pepper in a shallow dish and mix to combine. Place the egg in another small, shallow dish and beat with 2 tablespoons of water. Place the flour in a third shallow dish.
One by one, take each cutlet and dredge in the flour, pressing it in a bit; shake off excess flour, then dip cutlet into the egg, allowing excess egg to drip off; and, last, place into the breadcrumbs, turning and pressing the crumbs to adhere. Place the breaded cutlets on a plate. If possible, allow to chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Pour the oil into a large sauté pan — it should be about 1/8-inch deep — and heat over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Cook the cutlets for about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden, in batches if necessary, adding oil as needed, and remove to a plate lined with paper towels or an old paper bag to drain.
Arrange the cutlets in a single layer in a baking dish. If you are doing a large batch, you may want to use a foil-lined half sheet pan or a second baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes. At this point, if you are not serving all right away, you may prefer to leave the extra cutlets plain. Otherwise, spread a scant ¼ cup of tomato sauce over each cutlet, and top each cutlet with about 1 ounce of shredded cheese. Return to the oven for 5 minutes more, until the cheese is melted and beginning to bubble.
Serve with pasta or on a roll for a chicken parm sandwich.