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Chicken, Main Dishes, Pasta

Chicken Parmesan

by Nick

Chicken Parmesan. Chicken Parmigiana. Chicken Parm. Chicken P. I’m not really sure what the best name for the dish is (probably not Chicken P.), and heck even Tyler Florence calls it different things. He calls it chicken parmesan on Food 911 and then chicken parmigiana on Tyler’s Ultimate. Make up your mind T-man. As far as I can tell, they are the exact same.

I think the name is partially dependent on where you are from (Parmigiana is more Italian I guess). So I’m calling mine plain old chicken parmesan and I’m sticking to it.

No matter what you call it though, it’s some of the best comfort food I can think of and one of my favorite dishes.

This is one of those dishes that has a reputation of taking a long time to make, but I made this version on a week night actually. Start to finish it probably takes 75 minutes or so. You could simplify it by using jarred spaghetti sauce, but I don’t know of a jarred sauce that is as good as this version.

Yield
Serves 4.
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients

  • Sauce:
  • 1/3 Cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, drain them and crush them roughly with hands
  • 2/3 Cups basil, roughly torn (reserve some for topping at the end)
  • 1/2 Cup Kalamata Olives, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust if you don't want the heat)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Breading:
  • 2/3 Cup all-purpose flour, seasoned well with salt and pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water
  • 1 Cup Panko bread crumbs (you can use regular if you like)
  • 1 Cup grated Parmesan, plus some for sprinkling at the end, and use the good stuff
  • 1/2 Cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 Teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 pound of cooked spaghetti
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 8-16 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced (depending on how much cheese you like)
  • Canola or peanut oil for frying

Helpful Equipment

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For sauce, chop onions and garlic. Add olive oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add onions, garlic and bay leaf and cook them until they are soft and translucent.

2) Add olives (halved and pitted) and basil. Stir it all together for just a minute or two. Add tomatoes. Drain tomatoes and just loosely crush them with your hands. As they cook, they’ll fall apart even more. Stir this all together and let it simmer for 10 minutes or so.

3) Add sugar, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Let this simmer for a while on low as you make the rest of meal.

4) Trim off any huge bits of fat off of each chicken breast and then very loosely place a breast between two pieces of plastic wrap.

5) With a meat pounder, gently pound the chicken until it flattens out. You can use a rolling pin for this also.

6) Make a breading station next. You need three bowls: One with the seasoned flour mixture, one with the eggs, and one with the bread crumbs mixed with the grated parmesan, garlic powder, and chopped parsley

7) Dip a chicken breast in the flour mixture. Hit off any extra. Move the chicken to the egg mixture and submerge it completely so it’s well coated. Move it to the breadcrumbs. Press down on the chicken breast to make sure the breadcrumbs really stick to it.

8) Move each chicken breast to a wire rack while you prep the other breasts. Let the breasts sit for just a few minutes like this which will give the breading some time to dry out a bit and really stick to the chicken.

9) Heat up 1/2 inch canola oil in a large frying pan over high heat to 350 degrees.

10) Add two breaded breasts at a time and cook them for about 5 or 6 minutes a side until they are golden brown. Once they are done, move them to a different wire rack (different because the other one has chicken juices on it).

11) Add a thin layer of tomato sauce to the bottom of a large baking pan and then layer all chicken breasts on top of the sauce.

12) Top the breasts with all of remaining sauce – chicken will basically disappear in the sauce and that’s okay – then top that with sliced mozzarella and sprinkle the whole thing with some more Parmesan.

13) Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees or until the cheese is well-melted and bubbling.

14) Make your pasta while this bakes.

15) When chicken is done, let it cool for a few minutes and then serve it all together. Add some more chopped basil to top the dish.

Adapted from a Tyler Florence recipe.

It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it’s pretty manageable. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

Making the sauce

It’s best to start your sauce first for this recipe. Then you can just let it simmer away on low while you do your other things. If it ever gets too thick, just add a bit of water to it.

Basic ingredients can make a great sauce.

Basic ingredients can make a great sauce.

This is a really easy sauce actually. Start by chopping your onions and garlic. Then add your olive oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Once your oil is hot, add your onions, garlic and bay leaf and cook them until they are soft and translucent.

Onions on the heat.

Onions on the heat.

Next add your olives (halved and pitted) and basil. Stir it all together for just a minute or two.

Then add your tomatoes. Drain your tomatoes and just loosely crush them with your hands. As they cook, they’ll fall apart even more. Stir this all together and let it simmer for 10 minutes or so. Next add your sugar, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. You can let this simmer for a while without a problem.

Preparing the chicken

I think preparing the chicken is the part of the chicken parmesan recipe that intimidates most people. Ideally you want each breast to be an even thickness of about 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch. The easiest way to do this is to trim off any huge bits of fat off of each breast and then very loosely place a breast between two pieces of plastic wrap.

With a meat pounder, gently pound the chicken until it flattens out. There’s no need to hammer the bejesus out of it. Just a few mild whacks usually does the trick. You can use a rolling pin for this also.

Plastic wrap helps.

Plastic wrap helps.

Putting the breading together

Make a little breading station next. You need three bowls: One with the seasoned flour mixture, one with the eggs, and one with the bread crumbs mixed with the grated parmesan, garlic powder, and chopped parsley. I like to use Panko breadcrumbs as I think they make the final product lighter, but you can definitely use regular if that’s what you have.

Lots of flavor going on in there.

Lots of flavor going on in there.

Breading the chicken

First, dip a chicken breast in the flour mixture. Hit off any extra. You want a very light coating of flour. Basically, the flour just acts to dry out the chicken so the eggs will stick to it. Then move the chicken to the egg mixture and submerge it completely so it’s well coated. Then move it to the breadcrumbs. Press down on the chicken breast to make sure the breadcrumbs really stick to it.

I like to then move each chicken breast to a wire rack while I do all of them. Let the breasts sit for just a few minutes like this which will give the breading some time to dry out a bit and really stick to the chicken.

Sweet.

Sweet.

Frying the chicken

Heat up some canola oil in a large frying pan over high heat. You only need about 1/2 inch of oil in the pan. The oil should be about 350 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, just test it by tossing in a few breadcrumbs. The should bubble right away.

Add two breaded breasts at a time and cook them for about 5 or 6 minutes a side until they are golden brown. Once they are done, move them to a different wire rack (different because the other one has chicken juices on it). I prefer the wire rack to a plate with paper towels because the rack lets the oil get away from the chicken while the paper towel system still keeps the chicken sitting in oil. A small difference but I think it makes for a better final Parm.

Pretty good just like this honestly.

Pretty good just like this honestly.

All Together Now

Add a thin layer of your tomato sauce to the bottom of a large baking pan and then layer all your chicken breasts on top of the sauce.

Layered in a dish.

Layered in a dish.

Top the breasts with all of your remaining sauce – your chicken will basically disappear in the sauce and that’s okay – then top that with your sliced mozzarella and sprinkle the whole thing with some more Parmesan.

Add some mozz on there.

Add some mozz on there.

This needs to bake for about 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees or until the cheese is well-melted and bubbling.

While that bakes, make your pasta.

When your chicken is done, let it cool for a few minutes and then serve it all together. Add some more chopped basil to top the dish.

Plated with some pasta.

Plated with some pasta.

You know what really made this dish for me actually? The olives. They add this really salty and delicious element to the sauce. While the cheese and everything is great, for me, the olives were the best part. Is that weird? Probably.

Anyway, this is the best chicken parmesan recipe I’ve ever had I think. I highly, highly recommend it.

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13 comments on “Chicken Parmesan

  1. You have the dish spot on! I have called it just “Chicken Parm!” That’s it. One thing you could do, that I like is serve it with spaghettini or capellini (Smaller versions of spaghetti.) The reason? They just seem to let the Chicken Parm shine better.

    If you want even crisper, use shortening to fry it. Yes, the food police might lock you up for it, but hey, it is not like it is a daily thing, is it?

  2. I have to agree with you on the olives. Having had the pleasure of eating this dish after you made it, I gotta say, the olives were something I have yet to try in my sauce, but will moving forward

  3. I totally made this recipe for my boyfriend a couple of months ago and we both agreed that the olives REALLY made the sauce. I did not, however, add parsley to the breading. Must try that next time.

  4. @Jason. Yea… I use crisco when I make pan-fried chicken (Note: Need to post on pan fried-chicken). It does create a really nice crust.

    Thanks for the comments as always everyone!

  5. Fantastic. Authentic. Love the addition of olives. Chicken Parm is a retro dish that deserves a come back. I remember eating chicken parm subs growing up. very retro and regional.

  6. Nope. Not weird at all. I quite frequently add olives to my tomato sauces – it just seems to work. If you can find them, try adding a few of the sundried black olives – those are really killer!

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