Donal Skehan: Chicken Parmesan

Using good quality tinned tomatoes is key to making a great marinara sauce

A chicken dish everyone will want to eat

A chicken dish everyone will want to eat

Fri, Mar 17, 2017, 12:00

  • Serves: 4
  • Cooking Time: 60 mins
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serves 4
  • For the tomato marinara sauce:
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 x 400g tin whole plum tomatoes
  • ½ tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • Sea salt
  • For the breadcrumbed chicken:
  • 300ml sunflower oil
  • 4 medium chicken breasts
  • 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
  • 200g fine dry breadcrumbs (Japanese panko work well)
  • 50g flour, seasoned
  • 100g Parmesan cheese, whizzed in a food processor


Seek the best quality tinned tomatoes for the marinara sauce in this recipe, it makes all the difference to the finished dish.

I’ve called for Japanese panko breadcrumbs for the breaded chicken breasts; they are dry breadcrumb, resulting in an extra crisp crumb.

Dish up the chicken with a generous serving of freshly cooked spaghetti to toss through the marinara sauce.

For the marinara sauce, place a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the oil. When it’s hot, add the onion and fry gently for 10 minutes or until softened and slightly golden. Add the garlic, chilli flakes and oregano and stir through for 1-2 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and fill one of the tins half way up with water and add this also.

Bring the contents of the pan to a steady simmer and then reduce the heat and cook for 35 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by half. Check the seasoning before transferring the sauce to a food processor or blender.

Blitz until completely smooth – you can also pass the sauce through a fine sieve if you’d prefer. Transfer the sauce to a container and set aside.

Place the chicken breasts on a chopping board. Using a knife held parallel to the board, slice each breast in half lengthways, leave approximately 1-2cm to allow you to open them out like a book. Lay the butterflied breasts across the chopping board, place a piece of parchment paper on top and, using a rolling pin, flatten the breasts gently to a thickness of about 1cm.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Place the breadcrumbs, egg and seasoned flour in three separate wide bowls. Remove the parchment paper and dip each breast in the seasoned flour, then in the egg and finally the breadcrumbs.

Fry the crumbed chicken in the oil for 1-2 minutes either side until golden brown – they will continue to cook in the oven/grill. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of the pan.

Heat an oven to 250°C or a grill to its hottest setting.

Line a large baking sheet with low sides with parchment paper.

Add the chicken breasts to the baking sheet and top each one generously with the marinara sauce, spreading right to the edges.

Sprinkle each breast with Parmesan cheese and then sprinkle the cheese lightly with a few tablespoons of water- this will help the Parmesan cheese melt slightly.

Place in the oven or under the grill for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese and sauce is bubbling and the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Serve immediately.