What’s the first thing folks always bring up when you ask them what they can cook? The answer is spaghetti. Spaghetti is a black mom’s Thursday night saving grace. It is my hope that with these recipes we can use accessible ingredients to elevate recipes we've already become accustomed to.
As it turns out, when you fry a piece of chicken and you add a combination of cheeses, spaghetti becomes Chicken Parmesan. I’m not going to review how to boil pasta, but what I will do is run through some key tips for preparing each element of this quick, familiar, and delicious dish.
⁃ olive oil
⁃ sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
⁃ herbs and seasonings: paprika, dried sage, lawry’s seasoned salt
⁃ boneless, skinless chicken thighs
⁃ mozzarella cheese
⁃ parmesan cheese
⁃ marinara sauce
⁃ parchment paper
(optional: tomato, fresh herbs, arugula and mushrooms)
When it comes to the meat of the dish there are no concrete rules on how to make fried chicken. My keys for the dry mixture used for frying chicken generally includes flour (and/or Bisquick which I’ve used in the past in a tight situation), Jiffy cornbread mix, Italian breadcrumbs, paprika, dried sage, black peppercorns and OF COURSE Lawry’s seasoned salt. When it comes to choosing chicken, a lot of people would go straight to a chicken breast but I’ll encourage you to skip it. A boneless skinless chicken thigh will be much juicier and yield so much more flavor.
You can go as basic or get as creative as you’d like when it comes to pasta, think about how you want to serve the dish. Penne and spiral pastas work great when eaten from a bowl—it feels the way comfort food should. Long length pastas can feel more elegant and luxe. Try something new. Create a feeling. You can easily make this recipe a bit more healthy by adding things like mushrooms and arugula to the pasta.
Everyone isn’t ready to make their own tomato sauce from scratch, (nor does anyone have time for that) but it doesn’t mean that you can’t add some homemade vibes to a jar of marinara sauce. Add some chunks of tomato to your sauce or some fresh herbs or roasted garlic. You’ll taste the difference.
Do some exploring in the cheese section of your local grocery chain. Honestly, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Even store brand cheeses are great. We’ll be looking for two kinds of cheese: one hard and one soft. Our soft cheese will be a fresh mozzarella ball or log. The hard cheese will be your choice of parmesan, romano or asiago.
Time to put this all together. Start with frying your chicken. I tend to fry chicken in a shallow pool of oil for chicken parmesan, as it’s not necessarily something that needs to be deep-fried. When removing cooked chicken from the oil. Place it straight onto a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper (aluminum foil will work but will likely result in sticking). Cover your chicken with marinara sauce and a layer of fresh mozzarella. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
Toss your pasta in a tablespoon of olive oil, sea salt, ground black pepper and freshly grated parmesan. Serve pasta with chicken.
Done. Grab a glass of your favorite wine and enjoy!