My Family’s Favorite Meal Has 2 Ingenious Shortcuts

published Apr 7, 2021
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Feeding a family is no joke. From newborn feedings at midnight, to toddler tantrums over crackers, to the voracious appetites of growing teens, it often seems to come down to the perpetual parent-to-kid question: “What do you want?”

So when I find those dishes that everyone loves, I know they’re the real winners. The miracle meals. The unicorn dishes.

My kids are now 7 and 11, and with more than a decade of experience of figuring out family dinners, I’ve learned some important lessons along the way. One thing is that I most definitely do not approach every meal aiming to please everyone. For one thing, my kids’ preferences are split — one loves the soft slump of braised meats, the other prefers the firm bite of chicken breasts and raw veggies — and finding the overlap can be tricky. So when I find those dishes that everyone loves, I know they’re the real winners. The miracle meals. The unicorn dishes. The ones that are greeted with cheers as they land on the table. This is one of them.

It’s a weeknight-friendly chicken Parmesan biscuit bake that captures all the satisfying flavors and textures of the classic dish with much less time and effort. My version is held together by two staples — and supermarket shortcuts — that my whole family can agree on: roasted chicken (both dark and white meat) and savory red sauce.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

A Family Classic with Ultra-Streamlined Prep

Chicken Parmesan was not something I grew up eating. My mom was a true believer in the gospel of ’90s-era low-fat cookery. The boneless, skinless chicken breasts that graced our dinner table were generally grilled, not breaded and fried.

My husband, however, grew up in a small New England town with strong Italian-American roots. His love of chicken parm is the legacy he has passed down to our kids. New spins on red-sauce favorites are regulars I return to when I am in need of a weeknight slam dunk. (Because sometimes, you really just need that win at the end of a long day.)

Plenty of Flavor, Minimal Dishes

I’m always on the hunt for things that will make busy weeknights a little easier — and smart grocery shortcuts definitely fit that bill. This dish relies on two: a whole rotisserie chicken and a jar of marinara sauce.

And I almost always have both stocked in my kitchen. A rotisserie chicken is a given, and most grocery stores now sell inexpensive versions. Sauce-wise, any brand will work, but I reach for Rao’s; its deep, long-simmered flavor is one that I’ve yet to find in any other brand (and one that Kitchn’s staff agrees is the best on the shelf). With the time I’ve saved there, I also have a few extra minutes to stir together a quick batch of homemade biscuits to top the dish.

Topped with melty mozzarella and those flaky, Parmesan-flecked biscuits, this all-in-one dish hits all of those crispy, cheesy, sauce-smothered notes of the classic chicken dinner.

Easy Homemade Biscuits That Deliver

Biscuits can seem intimidating if you’ve never made them, but I promise that these are a truly simple mix of pantry ingredients that will give you a huge return. They’re drop-style, which means you don’t even have to mess around with rolling out dough and searching for cookie cutters. Using real butter and Parmesan cheese gives you a biscuit that’s so much more deliciously satisfying than the “pop” from opening a tube of dough.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Pro Tip: Switch Up the Order for Even Better Biscuits

Make the biscuit topping first, then stash it in the fridge while you toss together the chicken base. Extra-cold biscuit ingredients helps ensure both tender middles and a crusty exterior — which is exactly what you want crowning all that saucy chicken.

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: My Family’s Favorite Miracle Meal Has 2 Ingenious Shortcuts