This is probably not a weight-watchers approved recipe (chicken! breaded! and fried! with cheese!), but is a delicious week-night treat. If you pound out the chicken cutlets beforehand, this takes about a half hour start to finish but tastes like it required hours in the kitchen.
Adapted from How to Cook Everything. Full disclosure: I did not make my own bread crumbs or sauce. It was still awesome.
Makes 4 servings.
1-1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to roughly 1/2" thickness
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more as needed (I didn't measure-- just sprinkled some onto a plate)
1/2 c. seasoned bread crumbs (ditto on the measuring)
1 egg, beaten
4 slices mozzarella or provolone cheese
2 T olive oil (again, didn't measure, just glugged some into the pan)
1/2 lb. spaghetti
1 jar marinara sauce, plus one can tomatoes and whatever else you like to doctor up your sauce
1. Start your sauce simmering over very low heat; you can't overcook it, and if you're using jarred sauce, you may want to add some ingredients (garlic, oregano, basil, tomatoes, diced onion, a pinch of sugar... the list could go on and on) to doctor it up to your liking. Preheat your oven to 400, and put a pot of water for pasta on to boil.
2. Pound out your chicken to an even thickness of roughly 1/2 in. It's easier (and less messy) if you do it between two sheets of plastic wrap; it helps prevent the chicken from tearing. Since I don't have a mallet, I used a heavy pint glass. An even easier way to do this (which I thought of as my forearm was cramping from pounding out the chicken with poor leverage) would be to ask your butcher to run the chicken breasts through a cuber.
3. Set up your dredging station: Have your plate of chicken cutlets all the way to the left, then a plate with flour, then a wide bowl with one beaten egg, then a plate with bread crumbs.
Put a large skillet over medium-high heat with a couple tablespoons of olive oil; let heat for 2-3 minutes.
Spread about 1/2 c. of sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.
Sprinkle each side of the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper.
4. For each cutlet: Dredge in flour, knocking off excess, then egg, letting excess drip off, then bread crumbs, then straight into the hot oil. Repeat for next cutlet.
Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side (until golden brown).
Remove to saucy 9 x 13 pan. You will have to work in batches; do not crowd the skillet-- pieces shouldn't touch. Don't worry about cooking the pieces all the way through; just worry about the delicious coating getting crispy and adhering to the chicken. Add more oil to the skillet between batches as needed. You're not deep frying, but it must not stick.
5. Once all cutlets are fried, ladle some sauce over each cutlet. Place a slice of cheese on each, and sprinkle some parmesan on top, if you'd like.
(I know-- this is not a 9 x 13-- I was making 2 servings when I took the photo.) Bake until cheese is all bubbly, about 10-15 minutes.
While chicken is in the oven, boil spaghetti according to package directions (usually about 9-10 minutes.)
6. Serve chicken immediately with pasta and sauce.