As you can tell from this blog, I really love food and so does my “friend,” aka the extra 20 pounds of baby weight that lingers around my middle section. I know, I still have it almost two years later and should call it what it really is, fat, but I gained it while pregnant, so that is what I am going to call it. I recently restarted Weight Watchers, which has always worked well for me in the past to get me into a healthy eating mindset. This time though, I successfully convinced H to join in the venture. So I am going to try to post at least once a week on something for dinner that is “points” friendly.

This week it’s Chicken Parmesan from the Cooks Illustrated Light Recipes Issue.  I was a little skeptical of a couple of things namely

a) Can something that is supposed to be fried taste as good baked?

b) (probably the most important of the two) Is there a way for it to include an adequate amount of cheese.

I should not be surprised, but the chefs at Cooks Illustrated managed to accomplish both.  The chicken was crisp and tender, but also cheesy without being slathered in a gratuitous amount of cheese.

The key was pre-toasting the Panko, the light as air Japanese style bread crumbs.  Brillant!  The chicken not only looked fried, it also had a nice crisp crust.  Because really soggy crust would just make you feel like you were missing out.  And let’s face it, I want to lose weight, but I refused to eat something that tastes anything like wet cardboard.


 The best part of this recipe was that the extra 4 pieces were still crisp when we ate lunch and dinner leftovers 2 and 4 days later.  Next time, I will try the reduced-fat mozarella recommended in the recipe and pound the chicken a little thinner and possibly cut them in half.  H loved it and JC tried a couple bites (without the sauce).

Lighter Chicken Parmesan  
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated Light Recipes Spring 2008      by Julia Collin Davison
6 servings           Approxmiately 7 points

Tomato Sauce
1 28 oz can of Diced Tomatoes
4 minced Garlic Cloves
1 Tbs Tomato Paste
1 tsp Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (I increased the amount because I wanted more of a kick)
1 Tbs minced Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste

1 1/2 c Panko
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 oz Grated Parmesan
1/2 c Flour
1 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper
3 Large Egg Whites
1 Tbs Water
3 Large Boneless skinless Chicken Breasts, trimmed of excess fat and sliced into 6 servings
1 1/2 oz shredded Parmesan (we swapped for the 3 oz reduced-fat mozarella )
1 Tbs minced Basil

1. Cook garlic, tomato paste, oil and red pepper flakes in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the paste begins to brown. Pour in tomatoes and cook until thickened. Turn off heat and add the basil and salt and pepper.

2. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

3. Toast the breadcrumbs and oil in a a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until golden. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl and allow to cool, then stir in Parmesan.

4. In a second dish , combine flour, garlic powder, 1 Tbs salt, and 1/2 tsp of pepper.  In a third dish, whick together egg whites and water.

5. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top.  (The rack is imperative if you want the bottom of the chicken to be crispy.)  Pat chicken dry then season with salt and pepper.  Dredge the chicken the flour mixture (shaking off the excess), then egg whites, then coat with bread crumbs.  Lay chicken on the rack.  Repeat with each piece.

6. Quickly spray tops of the chicken with cooking spray, we used canola oil spray.  Bake until the meat is no longer pink and then center feels firm, about 15 minutes

7. Remove the tray from the oven.  Spoon 2 Tbs of the tomato sauce then a 1/4 oz of shredded parmesan to the top of the chicken and return to the oven until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with basil and serve.