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There’s no meal quite so satisfying as Chicken Parmesan, which I prepared last Sunday with linguini aglio olio (linguini in a sauce of garlic and olive oil) and roasted asparagus. The Fresh Market had a sale on chicken breasts—$1.99 per pound—and I planned our dinner around that bargain. There’s also nothing quite so satisfying as knowing you’ve spent less than $15 on ingredients that will yield three meals (if you’re cooking for two and love leftovers). You should also get two to three lunches from the breaded cutlets that didn’t fit into the baking pan. That, my investment-savvy friends, is a fantastic ROI.)

If you’ve got the basics in your pantry—extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, Italian-seasoned bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese plus good Parmigiano-Regianno, pasta, red pepper flakes, and canned tomato sauce—you shouldn’t have to buy much else other than chicken, provolone, your vegetable, and flat-leaf Italian parsley (for jazzing up your pasta). Two whole chicken breasts (or four halves, depending on how you tend to size things up) formed the foundation for this dinner. I started the day before by preparing my breaded chicken cutlets; all I needed to do to serve it the day was assemble and cook the recipe, make my pasta with garlic and olive oil, and roast the asparagus. A crusty baguette and a bottle of wine rounded out the meal. Delizioso!


—Serves six, with extra breaded cutlets to make sandwiches for three lunches

For the breaded cutlets:
2 whole boneless chicken breasts
3 to 6 Tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 cups seasoned Italian bread crumbs
1 to 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 eggs, beaten with a whisk
1/2 half shallot, minced

Slice the breasts down the middle, then slice off the side end of each half-breast so that each piece lays flat on your cutting board. With a meat mallet, gently pound each piece of chicken until the pieces are about one-half inch thick. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Whisk the eggs and add the minced shallot. Blend the bread crumbs and cheese together on a baking sheet.

Dip each piece of chicken in the eggs, then dredge in the crumb and cheese mixture. Place each breaded chicken piece on a separate baking sheet and continue until all of the chicken has been breaded.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cutlets and cook until they are golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add extra oil to the skillet as needed. You’ll likely have to cook the cutlets in batches; after each cutlet is cooked, remove it to a tray or plate lined with paper towels.

When finished, you can either cover the cutlets with aluminum foil and store until the next day, or continue with the recipe.

For the Parmesan:
3 16-ounce cans good quality tomato sauce
7 to 8 breaded chicken cutlets
7 to 8 slices Provolone cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Regianno cheese

Preheat the oven to 475-degrees F. Spread some of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan, then arrange the breaded chicken cutlets on top, adding more sauce in between each cutlet. Top each cutlet with a slice of Provolone cheese, then add a dollop of sauce to the cheese. Sprinkle the Parmigiano-Regianno over all.

Bake until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes or until nice and bubbly. Serve immediately.

(You will find, to your delight, that you should have unused breaded cutlets, which will be wonderful the next day for lunch, served on crusty Italian bread.)

(Would you like the recipe for the Linguini Aglio Olio? I can arrange that!)