CHICKEN PARMESAN CASSEROLE
¾ pound rigatoni pasta
32 oz. marinara sauce
3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded & separated
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts
¾ cup flour
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 ½ cups Italian breadcrumbs
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons butter
Fresh Parsley, to garnish
Tip: Bread the chicken while you wait for your pasta water to boil and for the pasta to cook.
Prepare the Pasta
Boil water and cook the rigatoni for 1 minute less than al dente- (Refer to package for cooking time).
When the pasta is ready, drain it add it back to the pot. Toss with 32 oz. of sauce, 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Set aside.
Prepare the chicken
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and cut into strips about ½ inch thick.
Create an assembly line for breading the chicken:
Bowl #1: 3/4 cup flour + 2 tsp seasoned salt + 1/4 tsp pepper.
Bowl #2: 2 whisked eggs.
Bowl #3: 1.5 cups breadcrumbs
Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, then briefly in the whisked eggs, then smother them in the breadcrumb mixture until completely covered. Use your palms to gently flatten the chicken a little bit more once it’s coated in the breadcrumbs.
Add ¼ inch of oil to a pan along with the butter, which helps give the chicken a golden color. Turn to medium-high heat.
Once the pan is heated, use kitchen tongs to carefully lower the chicken into the oil, you’ll need to cook the strips in batches. Cook for about 4 minutes per side, until golden brown. You may need to add more oil as the chicken cooks.
Place the cooked strips on a paper towel lined plate. The paper towels absorb the excess oil, leaving you with crispier chicken.
Slice the strips into smaller bite-sized pieces.
Assemble the Casserole and Bake
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Add half of the rigatoni/sauce mixture. Top with half of the chicken strips, 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
Add the remaining rigatoni. Add the chicken strips and the remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. If you prefer a browner, crisper top, increase heat to 425 and bake for about 5 more minutes.
Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with Cheesy homemade garlic bread and enjoy!