Chicken parmesan with a special twist! Hidden beneath the traditional mozzarella is a slathering of ricotta cheese peppered with ribbons of baby spinach. An element of surprise to perk up this Italian American comfort food classic.
Chicken cutlets are marinated in buttermilk then coated in parmesan bread crumbs and baked until crispy. Baking is my preferred method. Frying is so messy, fussy and time-consuming.
I make up for the not-frying by taking the extra time to marinate the cutlets in buttermilk. This produces fork-tender results and if you do happen to overcook them, which is an easy thing being the cutlets are so thin and are baked twice, the buttermilk helps keep them moist and juicy.
Once baked they are smothered in a spicy, red pepper Arrabbiata sauce then slathered with the ricotta and spinach followed by the mozzarella cheese.
Another trip into the oven to melt the cheese(s) and plating them with spaghetti is all that stands between you and this melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
- 1 + ½ pounds chicken cutlets, cut in half
- coarse salt and fresh black pepper
- 1 + ½ cups buttermilk
- 1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 2 (24 ounce) jars of Arrabbiata sauce (like Bertolli)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese, preferably fresh
- 2 packed cups baby spinach leaves, stems removed
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- 12 ounces whole grain spaghetti
- fresh chopped basil or parsley for serving
- Season the chicken cutlets on both sides with salt and pepper. Pour the buttermilk into a large bowl and add the chicken, cover with saran wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour to as long as overnight.
- In a large shallow dish combine the seasoned bread crumbs and parmesan. Grease a large baking sheet or roasting pan with olive oil. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Remove the chicken, one piece at a time from the buttermilk, allow excess to drip off then dredge in the breadcrumbs using your fingers to pat the crumbs on. Place on baking sheet. Repeat until all the chicken is coated.
- Bake about 20 minutes until golden and just cooked through. Meanwhile, make stacks of the spinach leaves and slice lengthwise into thin ribbons (chiffonade). Add the ricotta to a small bowl and mix in the spinach ribbons.
- Remove the chicken from the oven. Top each cutlet generously with sauce, then a generous spread of ricotta followed by a layer of mozzarella. Return to oven about 10 minutes or until cheese is hot and melted. Optionally you can turn the broiler on for a minute to brown the cheese.
- Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to package directions in plenty of salted water to al dente. Drain and toss with the sauce.
- Serve cutlets over the spaghetti with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and parmesan cheese.
Originally published Sep. 2012.