Ah, the 30-minute meal. Just because you need something quick and easy to make, it doesn’t mean you have to reach for the mac ‘n cheese box. Although having Cheerios for dinner every once in awhile doesn’t hurt anyone, right?

Chicken Parmesan has become a standard around our house, but not just because it’s a cinch to make. Along with having a short ingredient list (made up of mostly things you should have on hand), this dish tastes like it took hours to prepare.

Want to know the secret? Keeping it simple. The dish combines butter, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, garlic and chicken—that’s it. You batter the chicken with the Parmesan to create a crust. Unlike traditional Parmesan chicken, there’s no need to dip the chicken three times—in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan. And no need to fry the chicken either, a little broiling at the end makes for a crispy finish. Instead, you can dip the chicken right into the cheese, then just pour the butter over the top. The chicken is oven-ready in less than ten minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, I prepare pasta noodles and heat up a marinara sauce to serve alongside. Okay, I’m going to have an infomercial moment now, but here goes—wait, there’s more! I can usually turn this one meal into two. With the leftover chicken, I make Italian subs the next day. On a hoagie roll, I add thin sliced Parmesan chicken, then ham or pepperoni (or skip the additional meat altogether), then tomato, shredded lettuce and add a little mayo to the bun. I often sprinkle either dried oregano or basil onto the mayo and even add a few drops of red wine vinegar to give the sandwich a little zing.

So one, 30-minute meal can actually give you two days worth of bring-the-family-around-the-kitchen-table worthy dinners. Maybe, this does deserve the infomercial treatment!

Recipe

Ingredients:
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 8-ounce packaged shredded Parmesan cheese
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup butter, melted

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9” x 13” baking dish with heavy aluminum foil (not a necessary step, but it makes clean up soooo much easier). Lightly coat the pan with cooking spray.

Cut the chicken breasts into long pieces (or tenders). Empty half of the bag of Parmesan into a shallow tray or plate. Mix the pepper and garlic into the Parmesan cheese. Dip each chicken piece into the Parmesan and then place onto the pan, being careful not to crowd the meat. Add more Parmesan cheese to the plate when needed. Drizzle the butter onto the meat.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees as the meat’s internal temperature. Bump the oven heat up to broil. Heat the chicken on the broil temperature until the cheese just begins to become browned (about 2 minutes). Remove the chicken from the oven. I usually serve the chicken along with pasta and spaghetti sauce. With the leftovers, I cut the strips into thin pieces and place on a deli roll, along with shredded lettuce, tomato, and mayo (sprinkled with a little dried oregano or basil) to create an Italian sub sandwich.

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