|Chicken Parmesan Slider|
After a busy few weeks surrounding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, we fell out of the habit of eating dinner together as a family. Sure we were all together for feasting on Christmas Eve and Day (I missed our family Thanksgiving dinner with an unfortunate case of the flu), but our typical weeknight meal was replaced with work, a track meet, or grabbing a quick bite at the local diner with friends. I would love to say that each night at 6 p.m. we gather around the table for a well rounded meal with all family members present, but that is not typically the way dinner time flows in our kitchen. We, like any other family, have made choices to participate in these activities and sometimes our family dinner time suffers.
When we returned home from visiting family in the Midwest, I made dinner for our family on Sunday night. My Oldest had an invitation to go out with friends but declined. She informed her friend,
"My Mom is making dinner tonight. I am staying home."
So at 7:30 p.m. on a unseasonably warm winter evening in northern New Jersey, we all sat around our kitchen island and enjoyed conversation and Chicken Parmesan Sliders. Smal, thin chicken cutlets were panko and Parmesan cheese coated and pan fried to a crunchy crispiness. Topped with a homemade marinara sauce, melted mozzarella cheese and served on mini buns, we chatted about our day's events and the upcoming week when most of the family would be going back to work and school.
For a half hour, we shut out the technology-filled world and just ate dinner. We may make eating dinner together more than a weekly habit.
Chicken Parmesan Sliders
makes 16 sliders
for marinara sauce --
marinara sauce (either make your own with my recipe or use your favorite store brand)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced onions
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28 ounce) can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand or a potato masher
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
for chicken --
4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
2 cups panko
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper
about 1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
16 mini buns
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
To make marinara sauce --
In a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat add oil, onions and garlic. Saute, stirring occasionally until translucent, about 6 - 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and salt. Stir to combine and continue cooking over low heat for 15 minutes. Season to taste. Keep warm.
To make chicken --
Place chicken on a cutting board and slice lengthwise into 2 thin cutlets. Slice each cutlet into 2 smaller pieces.
Place a cooling rack over a baking sheet and set aside.
In three separate shallow dishes place (1) panko, (2) eggs, and (3) flour, Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, and a 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In a large saute pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil. Dredge the chicken pieces first in the flour mixture then the eggs and finally the panko. Pan fry the chicken for about 2 - 3 minutes per side or until lightly browned and the chicken is cooked through. Remove to cooling rack and sprinkle lightly with salt. Continue frying chicken in batches until all have been cooked.
To assemble the sliders, leave chicken on the baking rack on top of the baking sheet and top each piece with about 2 tablespoons each of the marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake in oven until cheese is melted; about 3 - 5 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and place in buns. Serve.
**Note - to make Chicken Parmesan Sliders ahead of time -- Prepare the chicken and marinara sauce, cool and package for the refrigerator until dinner time. Reheat the chicken topped with the marinara sauce and cheese in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes before serving on buns.