INA GARTEN’S PARMESAN CHICKEN MADE HEALTHIER
My kids’ favorite food of all time is Ina Garten’s Parmesan Chicken from her Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook. It’s essentially pounded chicken breasts dredged in flour, then egg, then a mixture of white panko bread crumbs, salt & pepper, and parmesan cheese. Then they are pan sautéed in a mix of olive oil and butter.
My boys want to eat this every week, so I experimented and came up with a healthier version. I substitute almond flour in place of the wheat flour, used whole wheat panko (there’s a gluten-free option, too) in place of white breadcrumbs, and I omit the butter and use only healthy olive oil to sauté them. You can also get away with using half as much oil if you cover the pan for part of the cooking time.
It’s really hard to tell the difference between the two versions, so most of the time I’m making the healthier version, but once in a while I’ll go back to Ina’s recipe, too. Here’s what you need to do to make my healthier version.
- 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 C ground almond flour
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbs. water
- 1¼ C Ian's whole wheat panko breadcrumbs or Ian's gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
- ½ C grated parmesano reggiano cheese
- light olive oil
- parchment paper
- Rinse and pat dry chicken breasts. Allow chicken to come to room temperature.
- On a large cutting board lay a large sheet of parchment paper. Put two chicken breasts on top of one side of the parchment and cover with the other side.
- Using the flat end of a meat tenderizer mallet, pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness of about ½ inch. This is fun to do with the kids! (The parchment keeps bits of chicken from flying about.)
- Gather three low shallow bowls or lipped plates. (I use my stainless steel breading set.) Combine the almond flour, salt, & pepper in one. In another, beat the eggs with the water. In the third combine the whole wheat bread crumbs and the cheese.
- Dredge a pounded chicken breast first in the almond flour, then the egg mixture, then the breadcrumbs. Repeat for each breast.
- Heat a large frypan (I prefer cast iron) to medium/medium-low.
- Add approximately 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and sauté 2 or 3 breasts approximately 5 minutes. You can cover the pan during cooking to help the chicken cook through without burning the breadcrumb topping or having to add more olive oil.
- Turn chicken and cook (covered) another 3 minutes.
- Uncover and check for doneness. The breadcrumb topping should be golden and the chicken should be just cooked through. It should feel firm when pressed with your spatula and no pink should be showing in the chicken.
- Remove chicken and let it rest 5 minutes on a plate before cutting so it retains it's juiciness.
- Add more oil to the pan for each batch of chicken you cook.
- Serve with ketchup or a squeeze of lemon juice & dijon mustard while still hot.
Breading pan set available at Williams Sonoma.