What Is a Chicken Parmesan Casserole?

Nicole Etolen

Chicken Parmesan casserole is a chicken dish that is prepared in a baking dish of some type and baked in an oven. Although ingredients can vary depending on the recipe, the three common elements are chicken, marinara sauce, and mozzarella cheese. The dish is typically served over some type of pasta, such as thin spaghetti or rigatoni noodles.

Parmesan is a hard, aged cheese that can be used on a Parmesan casserole.
Parmesan is a hard, aged cheese that can be used on a Parmesan casserole.

The chicken in a chicken casserole dish typically comes from the breast of the bird, although some variations may use the thighs or other parts. Boneless, skinless chicken breast is usually easiest to work with. Pounding the chicken with a meat tenderizer until all the pieces are about the same thickness makes it easier to cook all the pieces evenly. Many recipes call for the chicken to be breaded before baking, which creates a crispy coating.

Chicken breasts are a key ingredient in many culinary dishes.
Chicken breasts are a key ingredient in many culinary dishes.

Mozzarella cheese is also an important ingredient in making a chicken Parmesan casserole. The cheese can be purchased either already shredded, or grated fresh by hand. Low-fat varieties help cut down on the amount of calories in the meal, especially when pared with non-breaded baked chicken. Other types of cheese that go well with this dish include Asiago and provolone. Parmesan cheese goes well when sprinkled on top after the dish is done baking.

Marina sauce is the most commonly used type of sauce in a chicken Parmesan casserole. This basic tomato sauce can be embellished in many different ways to reflect the tastes of the cook. For those who prefer a hearty sauce, chunky marinara with large pieces of tomato may be a good option. Other additions include mushrooms and peppers. Some cooks enjoy putting other types of meat such as pork or meatballs in their sauce, but those typically do not combine as well with the chicken flavors.

Chicken Parmesan casserole is usually served on a bed of pasta. In most cases, the pasta is cooked separately from the casserole to prevent it from drying out. Thin spaghetti is a popular choice and is cooks relatively quickly. Linguini, which is thicker, is also a good option. Smaller noodles, such as rigatoni, may also be used.

Various different types of herbs and spices may be used to add more flavor to a chicken Parmesan casserole. Garlic, rosemary, and basic are all common choices, and work best when mixed into the sauce. Some cooks also choose to use cooking wine or culinary oils to add extra flavor. Experimenting with different flavors can help cooks create their own ideal chicken Parmesan casserole.

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