Monday, October 27, 2008

Recipe: Chicken Parmesan

This recipe is a winner. It's something people will always remember you serving, it is something your family will request again and again. This is one of the recipes that really kicked off my passion for cooking for family and friends. People love it and they're not afraid to tell you.

The recipe finds its origin as one of my ex-wife's standard meals, (she had 3, I think). Hers wasn't bad at all, but when I got into it I just wanted to um, how do you say, kick it up a notch? Pounding out the chicken certainly helps, but the homemade marinara and the use of three premium cheeses makes this one great. It is a favorite of my family and friends and readily requested and seconds are never refused. It's also better the next day, so cook it in advance or always make more than you need for great leftovers!

Let's talk about cheese. No, allow me to rant about cheese. When you're home cooking, don't scrimp, don't cheap out, don't cheat yourself. In home cooking, scrimping never pays off. If I write Parmigiano-reggiano (and I do a lot), use it. You're not saving anything if you spend your good time to prepare a great dish at home with inferior or substituted ingredients. Hamburger will never be beef tenderloin, raisins will never be figs, canned or jarred marinara will never equal homemade and store-bought grated parmesan in a can or bottle will never, ever, ever, ever be a freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano. The differences are not subtle, they are profound. One is sawdust the other is manna.

There's a reason so many prepared foods try to distinguish themselves with superlatives like "homemade", "home cooked" or "Just like mom's!" It's because crafty advertisers and marketers know that they have to try and create a superior and quality image of their food product in our minds. Don't be fooled by them in the grocery store and never fool yourself in your own kitchen. Quality counts and so does authenticity. The better the ingredients, the better the finished product. You can even make your own breadcrumbs if you like.

I also use this recipe as one of the components of my "Chicken Parmalasagna" which is a recipe I'll be adding at a future date. Yup, it's a lasagna made with layers of noodles, cheeses and chicken parmesan. Say it aloud as you read: "Chicken Parmelasagna", you read it here first!

Chicken Parmesan

3-4 lbs boneless chicken breast
1 cup of flour spread in a large plate
4 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
1-2 cups of Italian style bread crumbs spread in a large plate
1/2 cup Parmigiano-reggiano cheese (grated)
1/2 lb. mozzarella (shredded)
1/2 to 3/4 lb. Provolone cheese (sliced)
Marinara sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat the eggs and the milk together until well blended. Place the mixture in a large shallow bowl.

In a work area near the stove, lay out the plate of flour, then the bowl of egg mixture and finally the plate of Italian Bread crumbs.

Place 1-2 cups of olive oil in a deep sided pan (oil should be about 1/2" deep in the pan) and preheat slowly to frying temperature while you prepare the chicken for frying.

To prepare the chicken: Take the chicken breasts, separate them and trim off any fat. Place them individually in a large ziplock bag or cover with plastic wrap and beat them with the flat end of a meat tenderizer until they are 1/2"-3/4" thick. If you use glancing blows and you can better control their shape and thickness. Season them with salt and pepper and put aside. Repeat with all the chicken.

Take a seasoned chicken breast and dredge both sides of it in the flour. Shake off the excess flour then place it in the milk and egg mixture being sure it gets well coated. Drain it a little and then put it in the bread crumb plate and be sure it gets well-coated with bread crumbs. Carefully add the breaded chicken breast to the hot olive oil and brown each side well. Remove from the pan, drain it well and place it in a medium to large baking pan. Repeat this step for all the chicken. Be sure you do not stack the chicken. Keep it all on one level.

Sprinkle the finished chicken with a decent amount of the Parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Then top that with the mozzarella and then cover with sliced provolone cheese. Try to cover the surface of the chicken as best as possible. Then coat the chicken with a good layer of the marinara sauce and slide the whole thing in the oven until the cheese is good and bubbly. Usually about 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove it from the oven allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes and serve it with the balance of the sauce served over your favorite pasta.

Again, this stuff is even better on day two or three. Don't serve this dish to people you don't want to see again.
Recipe: Chicken Parmesan from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk


  1. I was lucky enough to enjoy Chicken Parmesan (cooked by the man himself no less) at Hancock Hall earlier this year. Truly, madly, deeply it was delicious!

  2. You are too kind. I look forward to your comments on chicken enchiladas.