Our teenage son is not into food like Kent and I are, so when he says something is good, you know it's reeeeally good. He normally doesn't even like to go out to eat, weirdo huh? We ate at Ruby Tuesdays once (not our favorite place in the world, but it wasn't bad!) and he raved about their Parmesan Chicken Pasta:
“Parmesan-crusted chicken breast over penne pasta tossed in Parmesan cream sauce, then finished with tomato-basil sauce and Swiss.”
It's basically a really tasty parmesan mac and cheese with a yummy drizzle of marinara sauce that complements it perfectly, and a crispy fried chicken breast on top.
So, YEP, I made my own much-better-for-you version at home, where I don't have to wonder about what vegetable oils they used, what fake cheese is in there, or where the mystery-meat chicken came from. There are a few steps to this, but it's worth it, and still doesn't take too long to pull together. If you're lucky like I am, you have a daughter who loves to be in the kitchen and help cook, while we watching cooking shows, of course. 🙂
Side note, pretty much unrelated… Do you guys love watching the Pioneer Woman too? The kids think she smiles too much, but I think she's awesome and I love the food she makes except for the times she uses vegetable oil. OH and I also can't stand it when she apologizes for using butter and cream. At least she still does use it, but why apologize?! (Read more here about my favorite topic: Healthy Fats!) The other day they showed the kids coming in from working on the ranch and they all sat right down and got going on their schoolwork, no complaining or anything. Like that happens in real life. Well, maybe rarely, but not often around here! I re-read her book recently about when she and her husband met and LOVED it: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. It's a really fun little romantic read. It made me want to find my Hubs and go give him a good squeeze. 🙂
Ruby Tuesday's Parmesan Chicken Pasta Marinara
- 1/2 cup butter, pastured butter is always best
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped small, or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried garlic
- 8 Tablespoons flour — I like to use Einkorn flour or Spelt flour because using alternative grains to switch things up is a good idea.
- 4 cups milk or cream, or a combination. I use about half cream and half raw milk, whatever you do, just don't use ultra-pasteurized milk — read more about that here.
- 8 ounces shredded fresh parmesan cheese
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thin pieces are best (Here's where to get safe, pastured chicken if you don't have a good local source)
- 3 eggs, pastured eggs are best
- 2 cups of your favorite flour (again, I like to use Einkorn or Spelt)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups bread crumbs (I save the ends from our bread and every so often throw them into the food processor to make bread crumbs)
- 1/2 teaspoon each of your seasonings of choice: garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, dried thyme, etc. (Those links go to safe, non-irradiated seasonings.)
- Butter or ghee for frying
- 16 ounces of your favorite pasta — or however much your family normally eats. I use Einkorn pasta or Spelt pasta. You could also use a gluten-free pasta.
- More sea salt and a glub of good quality olive oil for the pasta water. (Click the olive oil link for a discount on the kind I love.)
- One jar or about 16 ounces of your favorite marinara sauce. (I buy organic in glass jars, many of you probably make your own!)
First make your cheese sauce: Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan. Add in garlic and stir around for a minute or so while it starts to cook. Whisk in the flour and continue to stir while letting it cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to let it burn. Slowly add in the milk and/or cream. It will thicken, just keep stirring. Add in the parmesan cheese and stir as it melts, then stir in the sea salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Next work on the chicken, or do it at the same time if you have help! Either in bowls or baggies, put 2 cups of your favorite flour plus sea salt and pepper in one, 3 eggs in another (whisk them with a fork, or if they're in a baggie, just squish them around), and in a third, 2 cups bread crumbs plus seasonings. Using a fork (or just flopping them around the baggie), coat the chicken with flour. Next dip them into the eggs, then coat both sides again with the bread crumbs.
Fry in a frying pan (I use my awesome favorite pan for this) until golden on both sides. If your chicken is thick, you'll need to do this slowly and on lower heat to make sure it's completely done and that there's no more pink in the middle. If your chicken isn't too thick, it'll cook more quickly and come out more crispy, too. Once it's done, set it aside.
While the chicken is frying, start making the pasta in a stock pot and heating up your favorite marinara sauce in a small saucepan.
Now put it all together:
The cheesy pasta on bottom… a nice drizzle of marinara, and the chicken on top.
Serves about 6. Let me know what you think!
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