Chicken Parmesan, or chicken
parmigiana, is said to be a dish of the Italian diaspora, one that
seemly has been independently invented - or more likely, seen its
logical development - in several countries at once. Its closest
historical antecedent may be melanzane alla parmigiana, which in
Italy is called parmigiana for short and is known in English as
eggplant parmigiana. It's basically the same dish but with eggplant
instead of chicken. In my own country of Argentina, Chicken Parmesan is
known as Milanesa de Pollo a la Napolitana, and it's a variation
of a dish of a breaded veal cutlet topped with tomato sauce and
Mozarella cheese that was developed in the 1940s by the Napoli
restaurant in Buenos Aires. Alas, it's not a true chicken parmigiana as
it actually does not call for Parmesan cheese.
Whatever its origins,
chicken parmesan has become an American staple and one that can be found
everywhere from supermarket freezers, to meal kits to family restaurants
as well as home kitchens. It's equally comfortable being served as a
main dish, perhaps with a side of spaghetti or mashed potatoes, as it is
being in a sandwich.
As much as I enjoy chicken parmesan, before meal kits came into my life, I didn't have much experience
making it. Indeed, the first time I did make it was for this very
project - but as I neglected to write down the steps I took, I took the
very unusual step of just re-creating it, looking at a new bunch of
recipes to come up with one of my own.
All in all, this was pretty good and everyone liked it. I used fresh Parmesan, which I'm sure made a difference, and was careful to not overcook the chicken. I did use commercial pasta sauce, however, as I'm sure that's the step most Italian-American families have taken since these sauces became commercially available. What I did not use was panko breadcrumbs - which has become ubiquitous in most modern chicken parmesan recipes. I just didn't have them at hand.
This recipe was quite good, everyone was pleased.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- olive oil for frying
- 1 24-oz jar prepared pasta sauce
- 2 cups shredded Mozarella cheese or Italian cheese blend
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil or parsley
Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease two baking
dishes large enough to accommodate the chicken.
Cut the chicken
breasts lengthwise into 2 thin cutlets. One at the time, cover chicken
cutlets with plastic wrap and pound, using a kitchen mallet, until thin.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, parsley,
garlic and salt and pepper. Set aside.
In another large bowl,
combine Italian breadcrumbs with 1 cup Parmesan cheese and the garlic
powder. Set aside.
Put flour in a third large bowl.
Dredge each chicken breast in the flour, then drop it in the egg mixture and then carefully transfer it to the breadcrumb bowl. Press to make sure the whole chicken breast is covered.
In a frying pan, heat a 1/3" of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add two or three of the chicken cutlets to the pan, making sure not to crowd them, and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the prepared baking pan.
Pour the pasta sauce evenly on top of the cutlets. Top evenly with shredded Mozarella or Italian cheese blend and sprinkle remaining Parmesan on top. Sprinkle with basil.
Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Adapted from several recipes.
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