Everyone’s favorite Italian dish, chicken parmesan, adapted for the slow cooker. Uses a convenience ingredient that is the secret to it’s juicy success!
Chicken Parmesan is a meal I tend to make when I don’t want to have an out-of-the-box dinner because I prefer real, home-cooked food. I also call chicken parmesan the original fast food because cooked conventionally, it’s a very quick meal.
The thought of doing it in the slow cooker never excited me. The reason for that is I don’t like chicken parmesan made with anything but chicken breast and I tend to not like chicken breast cooked in the crock pot–it gets dry and stringy.
I got an idea about this one night quite a while ago when I couldn’t get to sleep. Some folks count sheep; I think of food!!! I was thinking about getting another freezer (and I did last month) and what I would stock it with.
One thing I really like to have on hand in my freezers is frozen breaded chicken strips or nuggets. I’ll nuke a couple of pieces lots of times for a quickie snack. But then I got to thinking about using them as the base of a conventionally cooked casserole that had tomato sauce and topped with cheese.
I couldn’t work out the proper formula to do this conventionally because the way I pictured it, there’d be little sauce. I canned that idea because all that would be is the chicken strips mixed together with a bit of dipping sauce. That idea didn’t excite me.
Then just last week I was thinking about maybe doing the same thing, albeit with more sauce, in the slow cooker. I envisioned a nice chunky homemade sauce with the chicken strips and GOBS of mozzarella cheese.
That idea was it. This meal was fantastic! The chicken stayed moist, the sauce was to die for–and you can make the sauce just by itself to use on pasta because it’s the bomb. Rather than use pre-shredded cheese, I used thick-cut slices off a block of mozzarella I’d bought previously. If you can, buy the block and cut off slices. It’s FAR better and gooeyer than the pre-shredded stuff. That baby really strings up nicely (as you can see in one pic).
You can dump this and just go about whatever else you’re doing. Only thing is, add the cheese the last 15 or so minutes before you plan to serve it. Adding cheese at the beginning of cooking in the crock pot seems to make it disappear.
- 1 bag (26-32 oz) frozen fully cooked breaded chicken strips or nuggets (see NOTES)
- 8 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
- 1 can (28 oz) petit diced tomatoes
- 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- ¼ cup brown sugar (see NOTES)
- Spray the crock with non-stick spray.
- Mix all sauce ingredients in the crock pot. I used a 5 quart round crock pot.
- Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours, high 3-5 hours--add the chicken the last hour of cooking.
- Place slices of cheese on top about 15 minutes before you plan to serve.
Don't use frozen chicken made from "chopped and formed" chicken. Make sure they are real, unprocessed chicken breast meat.
You might want to consider using a liner when making this. I sprayed but still had hard baked-on food that only a Brillo pad would remove.