I watched America’s Test Kitchen show on classic Italian fare, and thought that their preparation of Chicken Parmesan solved many of the problems of this dish. http://www.americastestkitchen.com/recipes/7323-best-chicken-parmesan
However, I thought it through and realized that by eliminating one step, it makes it even better. The process is very similar to my Chicken Pesto Milanese, with removing the 1st step of dusting in flour, and using panko as bread crumbs. ATK recommends a 20 minute salting of the chicken breasts to ensure a moist cutlet, but I think that is completely unnecessary and adds too much sodium.
Here is my take on an even better Chicken Parmesan:
A better Chicken Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon each Kosher salt and pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes mashed by hand
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup coarsely grated whole milk mozzarella cheese
- 3/4 cup coarsely grated fontina cheese
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil (grapeseed oil is best because of its high smoke point)
- Making the sauce is better than a store bought marinara. Heat the olive oil with medium high heat in a large sauté pan, and add the finely minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Then add the red pepper flakes, and the oregano, stir for another 30 seconds to bloom the herbs. Take a large can of crushed tomatoes of good quality and add to the pot. If using whole tomatoes, crush them slowly in a bowl with your hands before adding them to the pot. Add the sugar and enough tomato paste to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Finely chop the parsley, thyme and tarragon. Add them to the panko. Add the parmesan or romano cheese to the bread crumbs. Mix 2 tbs of flour with 2 eggs to create a batter.
- With a sharp chef’s knife, slice the chicken breasts horizontally. Remove any tendons from the tenderloin portion. Take a plastic freezer bag (Ziploc or similar) and place the sliced portion in the bag, and pound to a uniform ½ inch thickness. See my comments relating to this in the Chicken Pesto Milanese post
- Dredge the chicken in the egg batter, and transfer to the plate with the herbed/cheese panko crumbs, pressing the mixture onto the breast portion.
- Heat the canola or grapeseed oil to near smoking point (about 365 degrees) in a skillet. Add the chicken breast portions without crowding the pan (cook in batches) for 2 minutes per side, and transfer the cooked breasts to a tray lined with paper towels. Finish all the portions and arrange them on a half sheet pan lined with heavy foil. Combine the mozzarella and fontina together. Cover the top of each piece with the mixture of mozzarella and fontina. Turn the broiler on high. Place the tray 4 inches from the broiler element of the oven, and brown (not burn) the cheese onto the chicken pieces. This will take about 4 minutes.
- Plate the chicken with the tomato sauce on the top and/or on the side.
This recipe is nice and simple, and the results are spectacular. The use of herbs in the panko crumbs elevates the taste and elegance of the dish, and the cooking method prevents soggy chicken portions.