Adding Parmesan right into the crisp bread-crumb coating gives our classic chicken Parmesan exceptionally rich, cheesy flavor.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: Chicken Parmesan is a perennial favorite, but its multiple components can make it a time-consuming affair. We wanted to streamline this dish to make it feasible for two. We made a quick but flavorful tomato sauce by whirring together canned tomatoes in a food processor. Garlic sautéed in olive oil provided a rich backbone, and basil, sugar, and salt rounded it out. For the chicken, we coated breasts in flour, dipped them in an egg wash, then rolled them in a crumb coating of ultracrisp panko bread crumbs and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Pan-frying the chicken produced an evenly browned crust that stayed crisp even when topped with a mix of mozzarella and fontina and broiled until the cheese turned gooey. Spooning the sauce over the cheese, not the chicken, also ensured a crisp crust. We saved the remaining sauce for tossing with a side of hot spaghetti.
You will need to prepare CHICKEN PARMESAN
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
¼ teaspoon sugar, plus extra as needed
CHICKEN AND SPAGHETTI
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded if necessary
Salt and pepper
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ounce whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (¼ cup)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
4 ounces spaghetti
1. FOR THE SAUCE: Pulse tomatoes in food processor until coarsely ground, 6 to 8 pulses. Cook oil and garlic in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in pulsed tomatoes, bring to simmer, and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Off heat, stir in basil and sugar and season with salt and extra sugar to taste; cover to keep warm.
2. FOR THE CHICKEN AND SPAGHETTI: Adjust oven rack 4 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Spread flour in shallow dish. Beat egg in second shallow dish. Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan in third shallow dish. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with 1 breast at a time, dredge breasts in flour, dip in egg, then coat with bread-crumb mixture, pressing gently to adhere.
3. Line large plate with triple layer of paper towels. Heat oil in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Lay chicken in skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides and chicken registers 160 degrees, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Drain chicken briefly on paper towel–lined plate, then transfer to rimmed baking sheet.
4. Combine mozzarella and fontina in bowl. Sprinkle cheese mixture evenly over chicken, covering as much surface area as possible. Broil until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to serving platter, top each breast with 2 tablespoons tomato sauce, and sprinkle with basil.
5. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve ½ cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot. Add remaining sauce to pasta and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Serve chicken with pasta