Often, I find myself making dinner for only myself. Perhaps the boy is working late, or is away on travel. Maybe I have the girls for the evenings, but generally they’ve already eaten dinner by the time they join me. So despite being in a long-term relationship, I still rely a great deal on the lessons of cooking for one that I learned during a long single life. Or else, I just eat a lot of pasta. But every once in a while, I get a bee in my bonnet about doing some specific. Something special that I can take pride in and enjoy making for myself, and now in sharing with you. Things that get put on a plate and eaten properly with knife and fork instead of gobbled quickly while standing from a bowl.
My most recent scheme along those lines was based on a craving from something I used to eat in college, but never really have had since. There was the big dining hall (D-hall!), and other smaller dining areas that offered different options at different price points – was it a meal swipe or did you have to use dining dollars? Heady choices there. In any case, one of those dining areas had an Italian food theme, and the times that I visited, I loved to get chicken parmesan. Somehow, it was never a thing I ate growing up, but the opportunity to eat it semi-regularly in college was a treat.
And now that I’m out of school, I don’t think I’ve had it since. It’s not “fancy” enough where I order it at restaurants. And it takes just enough effort to make -or at least I thought it took lots of effort – where the time to make it didn’t seem worth it. But then I got this craving one day at work. I was going to be home alone. I wanted to make something a little different and fun. And I had the flashback to chicken parm, and I knew that was it.
The recipe was surprisingly easy to follow, and while I did have to buy some slicing mozzarella to go with my chicken breast (note: buying the Purdue individually-packaged breasts is easy, because they tend to be smaller/flatter to begin with, and it makes cooking for one easy), I had the rest of the ingredients in my kitchen. Sure, I may have left it in the frying pan a little too long, but it wasn’t actually burned…just browned.
I also seem to have misplaced whichever actual recipe I used when making this dish, but the one linked is pretty darn close to what I did, with the exception of being for a group. I like my individual version recipe because it’s still easy, and gives you a completed dish that feels more satisfying than another night of pasta or soup when you’re by your lonesome.
Chicken Parmesan for One
Yield: 1 generous serving of chicken breast and pasta
Pasta sauce – not a lot, could be the last quarter of a jar you have in your fridge
1 chicken breast cutlet (I like the size of these guys, but if you buy yours in packs and then separate to freeze, you’ll want to cut them in half so they’re skinnier/cook a little quicker)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
2 oz mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400 F
Dry chicken cutlet. Sprinkle with a little salt. If you have a larger breast, pound thin.
Beat the egg, put in one bowl large enough for the cutlet, and mix the breadcrumbs with half the Parmesan cheese in another bowl of a similar size.
Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large pan on medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering, not smoking.
Dredge breast in egg, then in breadcrumb mixture, making sure to coat on both sides with the crumbs.
Place the dredged cutlet into the pan, and lower the heat to medium. Gently fry the chicken cutlet until it are golden brown on each side, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
In a small baking pan (I used 8×8), coat the bottom area with sauce. Place the fried chicken cutlet on top of the sauce, top with a little more sauce, then add the sliced mozzarella, and the rest of the Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the mozzarella begins to turn brown, and then remove from oven.
Serve with the extra sauce over pasta or in a sandwich roll.