Polenta-Crusted Triple Cheese Chicken Parmesan
What's not to like about chicken, breaded, fried in olive oil, and covered in melty cheese? The answer is nothing. It's just a good idea all around and with a garden-fresh homemade marinara sauce . . . this is a fantastic one-dish meal to feed an army. I have made several variations of this Italian restaurant classic. This particular riff was inspired by a bag of medium-ground cornmeal sitting on the pantry shelf. The crispy polenta crust is a fun variation of the breadcrumb coating. Hope you like it.
- 5 or 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, split in half lengthwise to double the number
- 1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 c. shredded Parmesan
- 10 or 12 small slices of Provolone cheese
- 1 1/5 lbs. mixed cherry, Roma, or heirloom tomatoes, rinsed and pulsed to a puree in the food processor
- 1 sweet yellow onion, peeled and finely minced
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely minced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 2 celery sticks, rinsed and minced
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil plus extra for frying
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp sugar
- fresh basil leaves, minced
- a small handful of Italian parsley, minced
- 3 eggs, beaten
- flour for dredging
- 1 c. medium-ground cornmeal
Heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until they become tender and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add minced carrots and celery and cook over medium about 3 minutes to soften. Add tomato puree, basil, parsley, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and the cook over low heat, covered, for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. You can use this over any pasta you like or save it for the chicken Parmesan extravaganza.
Preheat oven to 350˚ F. While oven is heating, taken sliced chicken pieces and season both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge each piece in flour, then beaten egg, then roll in cornmeal until completely covered. Set aside for frying. Drizzle enough oil in the bottom of a medium skillet to cover it evenly, you will have to add more oil periodically as you fry the chicken. Heat oil over medium high and arrange several chicken pieces in the pan to cook. Don't overcrowd the pan! Cook chicken until it begins to turn golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from oil to drain on a paper towel lined plate until all the chicken has been browned.
Arrange a layer of chicken at the bottom of a 13x9" baking dish. Top each piece of chicken with a slice of mozzarella and a slice of Provolone. Top with half the prepared marinara sauce. Add a second layer of chicken, cheese, and marinara then top everything with shredded Parmesan cheese.
Bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through and cheese is melted and delicious!