You can prepare the sauce and chicken in the morning, then assemble the dish and pop it in the oven just before dinner. With spaghetti, sautéed spinach, and warm crusty bread, it makes a perfect Sunday dinner.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 28-ounce can tomatoes, lightly pulsed in a blender or food processor
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (3 whole breasts, split down the middle)
- 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more if needed
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
- Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the garlic, and the red pepper flakes. Stir for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, working on a large surface covered in baking parchment or plastic wrap, lay down the chicken breasts. Using a sharp slicing knife, cut each piece in half horizontally through the middle.
- In a large prep pan or dish, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Spread out to cover the whole bottom of the pan. Lay down as many chicken breasts as will fit on the mixture. Sprinkle salt and pepper over each piece and turn over, completely coating with the breadcrumb mixture. Repeat the process with the remaining pieces of chicken.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, along with butter, to coat the pan. Add the chicken breasts in one layer and cook until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove and repeat the process for the remaining chicken, adding a little oil and butter to the pan as needed.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spoon some tomato sauce into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish to cover. Layer in the chicken pieces and top with mozzarella slices. Spoon over about 1 1/4 cups more sauce, and sprinkle on the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Bake until golden and bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Sunday-Night Supper: Do you dread Sunday evenings as the last of the weekend gives way to thoughts of Monday-morning work or school routine? Stretch the day by making a crowd-pleasing dinner that leaves you time to enjoy it. Choose a dish like this one, which can be prepared the morning of and finished before dinner, or a long-simmering roast such as Asian-Style Pork Roast or Luscious Oven-Braised Short Ribs, which cook slowly throughout the day, letting their intoxicating scent waft through the house as a pleasant promise of the coming meal.