Chicken Parmesan: A Weeknight Favorite Gets a Primal Makeover
Crispy, cheesy chicken parmesan nestled on a bed of pasta used to be a weekly favorite at my house when my boys were living at home. But now that the nest is empty and I’m enjoying a primal lifestyle, pasta is no longer invited to Wednesday night dinner.
But just because pasta is out doesn’t mean I have to leave out the star of the show. So I decided to give my recipe a second look and make a few tweaks to see if it deserved a place in my “Ultimate Cookbook.” Check out these swaps, tips, and whys involved in the makeover to see if it’s worthy of a place at your dinner table.
- Sugar-free sauce for those sneaky pasta sauces hiding several teaspoons of sugar. I’ll save my sugar grams for chocolate, thank you very much.
- Almond meal for breadcrumbs
- Butter instead of canola oil for sauteing
- A whole egg instead of egg whites
- Veggies instead of pasta
- You can certainly make your own sauce, but this is a weeknight meal so quick and easy wins out – especially when you find a healthy substitute that’s non-GMO, sugar-free, and has no preservatives.
- Sauteing the chicken in grass-fed butter gives it a nice brown and toasty color plus adds some extra flavor. Since fat calories add up fast, use a nonstick pan so you can get by with only a couple of tablespoons of fat to get a nice color and crispy exterior.
- The chicken will cook faster and evenly if you flatten the thicker portion of your breast with either a meat mallet or a heavy pan.
- Saute your breast filets on both sides until brown and crispy, but finish cooking them in the oven to ensure doneness without burning the crust.
- You eat with your eyes first, so seeing that melting mozzarella lying happily on your filet gives no hint that your dish has undergone a healthy makeover. Buy fresh mozzarella, not that shredded, rubbery, tasteless concoction hanging in the deli. Slice off a super thin layer and place front and center on your filet for that feeling of indulgence.
- Confused about why television commercials are touting vegetable oils as a better alternative to olive oil and why butter is considered evil by some and a safe and preferable cooking fat by others? Join the club. This issue is so confusing I’ll share two resources: Dr. Josh Axe and Dr. Mark Hyman.
- To debate the choice of whole eggs versus egg whites, can there be a more fitting choice to explain the virtues of egg yolks than Liz Wolfe’s Eat the Yolks? You can also check out Liz on her Balanced Bites podcast with one of my favorite authors and bloggers, Diane Sanfilippo.
- Why have I ditched pasta and grains? Midlife has not been kind to my waistline and I find it much easier to stay at a healthy weight by ditching carbs and embracing more nutrient-dense vegetables. I like to ask this question when planning a menu: Is their a healthier choice? Broccoli wins out over pasta any day! Spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles would also make a great bed for your parm.
My newest version of chicken parmesan was described as “really good” by my husband, which is high praise from my man of few words. So it looks like chicken parmesan is back on my weeknight rotation. Now if only the boys were here to enjoy it with us!
- 2 chicken breast filets
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, optional
- 1/2 cup of almond meal
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 ounces fresh Mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup of marinara or pasta sauce, more if desired
- 2 tablespoons of grass fed butter or ghee for sauteeing
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Pound the thick portion of the chicken breast until the breast is of even thickness. Lightly salt and pepper the breast.
- Beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Stir in the dijon mustard.
- Add the almond meal and Parmesan cheese to a second shallow bowl. Add the Italian seasoning and lightly salt and pepper. (Yes, you are seasoning each layer.)
- Dip the breasts in the egg mixture until coated, then dip and press into the almond meal and cheese mixture.
- Heat a nonstick, ovenproof skillet over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter, and once melted add the breasts, swirling to coat the exterior evenly. Add more if necessary to coat.
- Once the crust is brown and crispy (about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes per side) add the second tablespoon of butter and turn the chicken, again swirling to coat the exterior with the butter.
- Place the chicken in the oven and cook until done, approximately 10 minutes depending on the size of the breasts.
- Remove from the oven, spread the sauce over the chicken, then top with the cheese.
- Return to the oven and turn the oven to broil to melt the cheese. WATCH CAREFULLY.
- Remove when the cheese is bubbly.