Boy oh boy oh boy do my boys oh boys oh boys love chicken parmigiana. Because most of us will agree, it is one of those foods in the What’s-Not-to-Love category, yes? Juicy chicken, crispy coating, tangy tomato sauce, melty mozzarella, zingy Parmesan. Fried chicken meets pizza, kind of sort of.
Chicken Parmesan vs. Chicken Parmigiana
What’s the difference? Nothing, just the name. Parmigiana is Italian, and Parmesan is the American way of saying Parmigiana, which actually apparently comes from the French simplification of the work Parmigiana. Either way it’s a beloved Italian-American staple.
And it’s very VERY loved in our world. When I offered our good friend Michael a dinner featuring whatever he wanted (to thank him for taking care of our beloved epileptic puppy while we were away), I presented a number of suggestions to suggest that the sky was the limit. In fact my exact words were: “Lobster? Steak? Chicken parm?” And he chose chicken parm. Over lobster. Because chicken parmesan is in fact that good.
Where Did Chicken Parmigiana Originate?
It is believed that Chicken Parmesan actually originated as a twist on Eggplant Parmigiana, popular in Southern Italy, where lots of eggplant is grown. Eggplant Parmigiana (coming to this blog soon) is fried slices of eggplant topped or layered with cheese and tomato sauce, then baked. In the mid 1900s Italian immigrants living in America (and other places in the world) decided to try chicken in place of the eggplant, and this Italian-American classic was born.
Crispy Chicken Parmesan
I had a chicken parm thought to experiment with, which I think is a good one. I wondered if perhaps putting the cheese directly onto the breaded and browned cutlets, baking it in the oven to finish cooking the chicken and melting the mozz, and then topping all of that with the sauce at the end might keep the top of the chicken less soggy. And it did!
I don’t think it’s the only way to go, but melting the mozzarella directly onto the cutlet without the layer of sauce in between allowed the coating to stay crispier, and then I doused each melty cutlet with marinara sauce at the end, so all of the components were there, just in a different order.
I also love it the traditional way, with the sauce layered in between the chicken and the cheese, though it does sacrifice some crispiness.
Chicken Parmigiana (or Chicken Parmesan) is total comfort food…and this recipe has a little twist to keep the chicken crispy!Tweet This
Using Jarred Sauce for Chicken Parmigiana
If you don’t feel like making the marinara sauce, don’t you worry yourself about that for a minute. That is in fact what jarred sauce is for. To make life easier. If homemade sauce stands between you and Chicken Parmigiana, that would be a crime.
Chicken Parmigiana (or Chicken Parmesan, depending on how authentic you are feeling!) is one of the world's greatest comfort foods...and this recipe has a little twist to keep the chicken crispy!Tweet This
Spaghetti with Chicken Parmesan
I include spaghetti with sauce in this Chicken Parmigiana recipe because to us, Chicken Parm doesn’t really exist without spaghetti with sauce. If you feel differently you can …um, NOT make the spaghetti and sauce? That felt weird even typing that. Ok, fine, you can put Chicken Parm in a roll and make a Chicken Parm sub. That’s ok.
What to Serve with Chicken Parmesan:
- Chopped Winter Salad
- Baby Romaine, Chickpea, and Root Vegetable Salad with Slightly Spicy Dressing
- Romaine and Slivered Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing
- Endive Salad with Pear and Creamy Herb Dressing
- Endive, Arugula and Orange Salad
- Fennel and Endive Salad
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- Pinch of sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups Panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese divided
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided if needed
- 8 boneless skinless chicken cutlets about 3 ounces each, ½ to ¾-inch thick
- 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese preferably fresh
- ½ pound hot cooked spaghetti or other long skinny pasta
- Preheat the broiler. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack on the baking sheet.
- To make the sauce: in a medium saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds until it starts to turn golden, then add the tomatoes, oregano, basil, sugar and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bread the chicken cutlets. Place the flour in another shallow bowl. Beat the eggs with a bit of salt and pepper in another shallow bowl. Place the Panko and 1/2 cup Parmesan in another shallow bowl.
- Place each chicken cutlet in the bowl with the flour and press it so that the flour coats the cutlets. Transfer it to the bowl with the eggs, and turn to it is coated with the egg mixture, then make sure any excess egg is allowed to drip back into the bowl (tongs are helpful for this). Transfer the chicken to the Panko bowl and turn to coat, pressing gently onto the cutlet so that the crumbs adhere. Place the breaded cutlets on the wire rack as they are finished, and let them rest for at least 5 minutes so the coating dries out a bit and will stick to the chicken as it cooks.
- Heat half the oil over medium heat in the largest skillet you own and add as chicken, as many pieces as will fit without crowding, cooking it for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until the exterior is nicely browned and the chicken is just cooked through. Return the cooked chicken to a clean wire rack on the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the breaded cutlets adding more oil as needed, until all of the chicken is browned.
- Sprinkle over about 3 tablespoons of mozzarella and a heaping teaspoon of Parmesan over each breast. Broil for about 2 to 3 minutes, watching carefully, until the cheese is melted and lightly browned in some spots.
- Meanwhile toss the hot pasta with 2 cups of the warm tomato sauce, reserving about 1 cup. Divide the pasta between 4 plates. Place two pieces of chicken on top of each plate of pasta, and drizzle the remaining sauce over the cutlets.
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