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Chicken Parmigiana

January 24, 2012

Recently, our dinner menu has gotten kind of stale.  We’re always making the same dishes over and over again.  To the point that we’ve kind of gotten bored with the same old, same old.  So, I decided that it was time to switch up the dinner plans a little bit.

When I told my husband of my plans to make chicken parmigiana, he said to me, “you’re on your own there.”  Which was fine by me.  Even though he doesn’t remember, I have made chicken parmigiana once before.  But it was many moons ago, and must not have stood out to him.  However, this time around, as I was making dinner, my husband commented on how everything looked so good.  Then, when we finally sat down for dinner, and he had some of my chicken parmigiana he said to me, “This is EXCELLENT!”  I think that may be the first time ever that he’s told me that my food was excellent!

I will admit, making chicken parmigiana is a time-consuming dish and not something that would be made on a regular basis.  But it’s also kind of fun to make everything.  You can really get messy, get your hands dirty, and create something amazing.  The list of ingredients is also a mile long.  It includes: chicken breasts, flour, salt, pepper, dried parsley, dried basil, ground coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, eggs, water, bread crumbs, panko, parmesan cheese, butter, canola oil, olive oil, onions, garlic, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, red wine and mozzarella cheese.  Whew!

First up is the chicken breasts.  Since the chicken breasts will be breaded and pan-fried, it’s important to have thin cut pieces of chicken.  I took half a chicken breast and cut it lengthwise through the breast.  Basically, butterflying half a chicken breast to 2 create 2 pieces.

Even though you’ve cut the chicken breast in half, it’s still not thin enough for the treatment you’re about to give it.  So, to get an even thinner pice of chicken, you’ll need to pound out the chicken breast.  The easiest way to do this is to put your chicken inside of a ziploc bag.  Don’t seal it all the way or else your bag will just explode when you start pounding it.  The reason for putting it in between a ziploc bag is so that the chicken is contained within a vessel (the bag), and also it has a surface to cling to as you pound it thin.  Also, since the chicken is inside the bag, when you smash it, bits of chicken won’t go flying all over the kitchen.  The easiest way to pound the chicken is to use the flat side of a meat mallet.  But, if you don’t have a meat mallet, just use the bottom of a heavy bottomed pan.  You’ll need to try and get the chicken as thin as possible, around 1/4″ thick.

Next up, is the breading for the chicken.  The process of breading the chicken, prior to pan-frying it, is a 3-step process.  The easiest way to handle this would be to create a little assembly line that leads directly to your skillet.  First step is the flour.  You’ll need to dredge the chicken cutlets in flour on both sides.  You’ll want to season your flour in order to give your chicken some flavor.  Since the flour will adhere to the chicken, anything you use as seasoning in the flour will add flavor to your chicken.  I used salt and pepper liberally, as well as some dried parsley and basil, garlic powder, and some ground coriander.  Once you add the seasoning to the flour, make sure to use a fork and mix everything together well so that the seasoning is evenly distributed through the flour.

Second step is the egg wash.  You’ll need to create an egg mixture which helps to create a nice crust on your chicken as well as serves as a way to get the breading to stick to the chicken.  The egg wash is simple, crack a couple of eggs into a shallow bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of water to thin it out.  Lightly beat the eggs until fluffy.

The final step in the 3-step process is the breading.  To create the breading for the chicken, I combined regular unseasoned bread crumbs, panko breadcrumbs to add crispiness, and freshly grated parmesan cheese for the saltiness.  When the chicken is pan-fried, the cheese will melt right into the chicken.

Now that you’ve got your breading ready, and the chicken has been pounded out, it’s time to put everything together.  Take a pair of thongs, that way you don’t have the touch the chicken, and grab one of your thinly pounded-out chicken cutlets.  Dredge the chicken in your flour mixture.  Make sure that you fully coat both sides of the chicken in flour.  Shake off the excess.

Transfer your floured chicken cutlet directly into the egg wash.  Again, make sure that both sides of the floured chicken cutlet are completed covered in egg wash and allow the excess to drip off the chicken.

Last step, the breading.  Transfer the chicken from the egg wash to the breading mixture.  One last time, make sure that the chicken cutlet is completed covered in breading.  Take some care to press the chicken into the breading mixture to make sure it sticks.  You don’t want the breading to fall off when the chicken hits the pan.

Now it’s time to pan fry the chicken.  Preheat skillet with some canola oil and a dab of butter.  The butter will help the chicken get golden brown.  When the butter has melted and the pan is starting to smoke, transfer your chicken right into the pan.  Cook the chicken on each side for 3-4 minutes until cooked all the way through.  Once done, transfer the chicken to a paper towel lined plate to catch all the excess oil.

Alright, you’re halfway through the process.  I know, it takes tons of steps!

Next step in the process is to make the sauce for your chicken parmigiana.  Start by dicing up an onion and some garlic cloves.

Throw the onions and the garlic into the same skillet you just pan-fried your chicken in.  This way you can incorporate all the yummy flavors of the chicken that was left behind in the frying process.  It’ll add flavor to your sauce and bring it all together.  You want to cook the garlic and the onions until they are brown.  Just don’t burn them.

Since I had a bottle of red cooking wine, I poured that into the pan in order to deglaze all the goodies that were stuck on the bottom of the pan.  When the red wine hits the pan, it’ll sizzle and steam, but that’s exactly what you want.  You only need a little bit of red wine.  And if you don’t want to use red wine, feel free to use chicken stock as well.

It’s now time for the tomatoes.  I used a can of petite diced tomatoes because I wanted some chunkiness to my sauce, a can of tomato sauce, and a little bit of tomato paste.  Keep the heat on medium-low in order to simmer the sauce, but you don’t want it bubbling and boiling over everywhere.

Seasoning for the sauce comes next.  Salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried parsley and dried basil is what I used.  But you can use whatever herbs you feel like.  And fresh herbs are even better!

Incorporate everything and then just let the sauce cook on its own in the pan for the next 20-30 minutes.  It should reduce down in volume by half.

As a last step, I freshly grated some parmesan cheese right into the sauce and mixed it together to melt the cheese.  This gives your sauce a bit of added flavor as well as a bit of body and thickness to it.

Now it’s time to combine everything together.  In a casserole dish, I ladled enough sauce to cover the bottom of the casserole dish.  I topped the sauce with the pan-fried chicken we had set aside.  I add a little bit more sauce on top of the chicken and to fill in the sides.  And finally, the whole thing was topped with a combination of mozzarella cheese and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

The casserole dish goes into a pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes until all the cheese has melted and starts to turn brown at the edges.  That’s when you know your dish is done.  You just want everything to be incorporated together, everything’s already cooked, it’s just about incorporating the flavors, melting the cheese, and bringing the dish together.

It’s classic to serve chicken parmigiana over some spaghetti or angel hair pasta.  Put the pasta down on the plate, top it with your chicken parmigiana and ladle over any remaining sauce you might have.  A perfect, hearty and tasty meal!

Also, if you have leftover chicken parmigiana, not to fear, you can easily turn it into a sandwich for lunch the next day.  Take a deli roll, split it in half.  Butter both sides of the roll and pop it into the toaster to brown the buttered side and make it a bit crispy.  Warm up your chicken parmigiana.  Slice it up and put it on top of your crispy deli roll.  Enjoy your leftover chicken parmigiana sandwich!  Super simple.

This is not a quick meal, but it’s a classic one.  All the flavors come together perfectly.  Crispy, flavorful chicken served over rich and hearty tomato sauce topped with melted cheese.  A classic Italian favorite right in your own home!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather Morrow permalink
    January 24, 2012 7:45 pm

    Okay, now I am hungry.

  2. January 26, 2012 5:12 am

    Maybe it is the cold weather but I just made veal parmigiana. I think your dish was so good because of the nice seasonings. I would have said excellent if I was sharing your meal.

  3. January 27, 2012 3:53 am

    Great receipt. Wow, parmigiana is one of my favorite cheeses!

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