…from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? Chicken Parmesan! Ahhhh, a taste of old Italy, right? Wrong! It’s a taste of Little Italy in New York City.
Chicken Parmesan has the potential to achieve that rare dinner feat: Pleasing everyone. I think I know why. The dish, also known in restaurant slang as Chicken Parm, actually originated in the northeast United States from Italian immigrants and became a popular staple in restaurants serving Italian-American cuisine. Upon arriving in America, Italian immigrants began to take advantage of America's affordable meat market, incorporating chicken into parmigiana. In the United States Chicken Parmigiana is served as a main course, with a side of pasta.
Because of its simplicity, home versions grew in popularity to a once-a-week status. A recipe was published in the 1953 issue of the New York Herald Tribune that used frozen fried chicken patties or fillets along with other pre-processed foods—Yuk!—to make a version of the dish at home. In 1962 a scratch recipe for Chicken Parmigiana was published in The New York Times.
Why is it so popular? This may very well be the most crave-worthy food for adults that kids also love. If you look at it deconstructed, Chicken Parmesan is simply comprised of three fan-favorite foods that kids actually want to eat: chicken tenders, cheese pizza and spaghetti with tomato sauce
What do the Italians eat in Italy? Chicken Pizzaiola in Venice or Melanzane alla Parmigiana, a dish using breaded eggplant slices instead of chicken. There are other similar dishes in Italy that use meat. Carne Pizzaiola is a dish derived from the Neapolitan tradition that features meat topped with cheese and often cooked with tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and white wine. Beef is used most often but it can be made with chicken or pork as well. A similar dish using veal is known as Cotoletta alla Bolognese, which excludes tomato sauce but includes melted parmesan cheese and prosciutto. Costolette Parmigiana is another similar veal dish, but in Italy it is generally served without sauce or cheese.
My version of Chicken Parmesan is a little different than most in that I don’t want to drown the fried chicken breast in tomato sauce giving the dish a crispier texture.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Additional time: 15 minutes
Allow a full hour for best results
Yield: 4 servings
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs + 2 tablespoons of cold water
1 cup seasoned panko or traditional seasoned breadcrumbs, more as needed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, more if needed
1 cup olive oil for frying
1 cup prepared tomato sauce (I prefer Rao’s Marinara Sauce)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup shredded provolone cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
Use high-quality prepared tomato sauce for a better end result. You may substitute pesto or dried Italian herbs of your choice for basil or omit entirely. If using fresh mozzarella, cut it into cubes instead of shredding it.
ChefSecrets: Ed’s Top Tips for Making Great Chicken Parmesan
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