Italian comfort food! Another one of my favorite recipes. It’s easy to make, and very tasty. Never fails to please.
I love Italian food. My ancestry is a blending of Italian, Sicilian, and Irish blood. I have lots of memories of big all-day family gatherings where we all gather at one house and cook for hours, getting the whole family involved. Even the smallest kids had a place in the kitchen. And come meal time, the food would just keep flowing from the stove to the table, in waves! All made from scratch, and all so delicious. It’s no surprise that I still have a love for cooking and serving food to this day and this delicious chicken parmesan is one of my favorites.
I love to try new recipes, and I certainly have moved on from cooking only Italian foods, but there are a few recipes in my repertoire that I pull out on a regular basis. No recipe card is needed, I fly on auto-pilot for these meals! A really great habit to get into, by the way. It’s worth learning one recipe you can make from scratch. One recipe you can pull out at a moment’s notice to impress a certain someone or group of friends. Make it often. Get comfortable with it! When you aren’t stressing about whether you are doing the recipe right you start to enjoy the process of cooking.
A word about sauce
I love home-made tomato sauce. If you have the time, and want to make something really tasty, check out Trilo’s Monster Sauce recipe. It is a labor of love to be sure, but it is really great sauce! I decided to try my parm with his sauce this time (thanks Trilo!), but if you don’t have the time there are lots of great home-style sauces available in the market these days. Try to avoid the big brands and look for a local, artisanal brand. The taste of something made with love is head and shoulders above anything mass-produced, and you’ll be helping to support local small businesses. Bonus!
Adjusting for your diet
There are several steps to this chicken parmesan recipe, and it may seem difficult, but it really isn’t. And once you understand the steps, you can easily switch up the recipe to suit your diet. If you are a vegetarian, substitute eggplant or portobello mushrooms for the meat. If you are not eating bread, there are lots of gluten-free options available for the crumbs. Don’t be afraid of the idea that the cutlets are fried. I use olive oil, which is a great oil for your diet, and the breasts are browned at high heat, quickly so they don’t absorb the oil. This recipe is about learning the steps: bread, brown, assemble with sauce and cheese, then bake. So let’s get cooking already!
- 1.5 lbs Chicken breasts skinless and boneless
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Tbsp Milk
- Olive oil extra virgin
- 15 oz Bread crumbs Italian style
- 32 oz Tomato pasta sauce
- 8 oz Mozzarella cheese shredded
- 1/4 cup Asiago cheese shredded
- 1 sprig Fresh basil
- Gather your ingredients and tools.Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Slice your chicken breasts into 1/2″ slices across the grain. Cut off excess fat and white tendons.
Breading the chicken
- In one pie plate put eggs and milk. Beat with a fork till well combined.In second pie plate put half of the breadcrumbs, with a crack of black pepper and some salt. Stir with a fork to blend. Tip: Since you are using raw chicken you won’t be able to re-use the leftover bread crumb mixture. Using half at a time reduces waste. If you run out of bread crumbs when you are breading your chicken, simply add some more to the plate, with more salt and pepper and continue. The same goes for the egg.
- Set up your assembly area so you have the sliced chicken, eggs, bread crumbs, and an empty plate side-by-side. You want a smooth assembly line once you start breading.Using a fork, take one chicken slice and drop it into the egg. Turn it over to coat. Lift and let it drain for a second. Drop it into the breadcrumbs. Turn it over and scoop some bread crumbs over top of it. Pat the bread crumbs into it with your fork. Make sure all sides and edges are coated. Flip over again to check coating. Lift and shake it gently to remove excess crumb. Move it to the plate. Repeat with all pieces.
- You can work a couple of slices at a time once you get the hang of it, just make sure everything gets well coated in egg and then crumbs.
- Once you have all of the chicken slices breaded, clean up the area and move over to the stove.
Frying the chicken
- Set up your frying station with your chicken at one side of the frying pan. On the other side set up your cooling rack over a few sheets of paper towels on a cookie sheet. This is where you’ll put the browned chicken to drain.
- In the frying pan, add olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. About 1/2″ of oil is needed to fry the chicken. Heat the oil before adding the chicken. This step will insure that your chicken gets browned without being greasy. The top of the oil will start to ‘shimmer’. Drop a small piece of chicken in when you think it is hot enough. The chicken should start to bubble a lot, right away. If it doesn’t wait a bit longer.
- Once the oil is hot, put 4-5 pieces at a time into the oil. Lay them into the oil away from you, so the oil doesn’t splash you. Oil is VERY hot! Be careful.After a few minutes, flip the first piece over with silicone tongs, it should be lightly browned. If it’s still pale, flip it back over to brown some more. If it is browned, flip over the other pieces in the pan, one by one. Make sure they are browned on the first side.If the pieces are turning too dark, remove the pan from the heat for a moment and turn the heat down. Flip all the pieces and then return to the heat. Again, after a few minutes, check one piece on the second side to see if it has browned. Lift the piece and let it drain for a few seconds, then move it to the draining rack you set up. Repeat with all the pieces in the pan.Drop another 4-5 pieces into the oil. Repeat to brown all pieces on both sides, removing them to the draining rack.Note: you are not trying to cook the chicken through at this point. You are browning the crumb. The chicken will finish cooking in the oven.
- All your chicken should be lightly browned and draining. Turn off the heat on the oil and leave to cool completely. You can strain the oil to re-use once it is cool.
Assemble the parmesan
- Pour a generous layer of sauce into the bottom of your baking pan.
- Assemble the fried chicken in the pan, overlapping slightly.
- Pour some sauce over the chicken, then cover with shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Pour more sauce over the cheese if you like. Be sure to leave some cheese visible.Note: I like my part on the saucy side. Some people prefer to have the top layer be mostly (or all) cheese. Find your sweet spot!
- Loosely tent-cover the pan with aluminum foil. You will be removing the foil mid-way through the cook, so make it easy to take off. You also want to make sure it isn’t pressed up against the cheese, so give it a good tent.
- Put pan in the pre-heated oven. Cook at 350° for 20 minutes. When the time is done, take the foil off the pan, and put the pan under the broiler. Keep an eye on it! Leave under the broiler for about 2 minutes. You want the mozzarella to brown slightly. Don’t let it burn!Remove from the oven, and let sit for a few minutes. Sprinkle with fresh basil cut into thin strips.
- Serve and enjoy!