So today for lunch at work, I made the crew some Chicken “Parm”. I’ve always loved this dish, and have had many permutations of it. I always try to keep mine simple.
At work, of course, I have access to plenty of great product, so when I set out to make this chicken, I did some shopping in the coolers. I grabbed some fresh basil, fresh garlic and a little parmesan cheese. I spun all this up in a food processor with some panko breadcrumbs. Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb, made from bread without crust. This makes it drier and lighter. They are available at most grocers, but any breadcrumb will do in a pinch. Heck, you could even make your own!
I used quite a bit of basil and the finished, seasoned breadcrumbs were rather green and moist. I spread them on a sheet pan while I prepared the rest of the ingredients, letting them dry just a bit.
Next, I flattened the chicken breasts. I have a little trick for this, that helps with cleanup. I place the chicken breasts between two layers of plastic wrap. I then use the flat side of the mallet, pounding gently. This both helps the chicken cook quickly and tenderizes it quite a bit.
To coat the chicken I first sprinkled the breasts with salt and pepper. Then I made an eggwash of about a teaspoon of water for each egg, dipped the flattened breasts in flour, then in the eggwash, then into the breadcrumbs. It’s important to make sure the egg has fully coated the floured surface of the breast, and then that the breadcrumbs do the same. Bare spots will not create a disaster, but will detract from the meal for certain. Once coated, set the chicken aside on a plate and heat some olive oil in a large skillet, one large enough to hold all your chicken at once. If you don’t have a skillet big enough, you can cook in batches, but you may need to change the oil in between, as loose breadcrumbs with burn quickly and add a bitter flavor to the oil.
Next, turn on the oven, heat it to 350 degrees.
Now, in my kitchen, I have a great “marinara” type red sauce. You can make your own, or buy some, whichever you prefer. You wont need too much, just enough to cover each chicken breast. We’ll also need some cheese, a low moisture mozzarella, some provolone, fontina are a few that come to mind. I used a low moisture mozzarella with a touch of fontina. But now I am getting ahead of myself. We need to fry the chicken first.
You’ll want your oil moderately hot, not smoking, gently place the chicken breasts in the pan, as many as you can fit without touching each other. Cook them on each side until they get golden brown, you’ll know, they will just look right! place the chicken on a sheet pan and let them rest for a minute or so. Spoon your red sauce over each breast, covering the surface. Of course, some people like more sauce. I then covered the sauce with shredded cheese and put them into the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. until the breasts had an internal temperature of 165 degrees and the cheese was nicely browned.
That’s it. Some of the guys tossed up some spaghetti as a side. I just put mine on some crusty french bread and ate it. This dish is a true crowd pleaser, and the use of the fresh basil and garlic really gives it a great, fresh flavor. So try this version, play with the amount of basil you use, or even add some fresh oregano. Don’t worry, this dish is very forgiving. And as usual, don’t be afraid of your kitchen, feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions.