Chicken Parmesan is a protein-rich comfort food which brings back memories of dining at your favorite Italian restaurants, and if you’re lucky, it's one of your mom’s favorite recipes. Here is a combination of traditional flavors and cooking style with a bit of updated technique to bring Chicken Parmigiana into the 21st century. Consider making a few tweaks to the noodles and veggies to make the update complete. If anyone has any room, make sure to include a traditional Italian dessert.
Cooking this chicken parmesan dish involves both stovetop and oven cooking, so start by preheating the oven to 450 degrees F while you prepare the ingredients. You'll be pounding thin, breading and frying the chicken breasts, then finishing them in the oven along with fresh tomato sauce and delicious cheeses. To get ready, organize the ingredients and make sure you have cubed the Mozzarella and shredded the provolone.
Topping cheeses, herbs, and oil:
Pound the chicken breasts with a meat mallet's flat surface until they are a half-inch thick. You can keep your work area cleaner by using the plastic from a freezer bag to cover the top and bottom of the meat while you're working on it. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper, freshly ground if you have it.
Use about a cup of panko for your breadcrumbs or if you're making your own, just omit the crusts for a better coating. There are commercial gluten-free panko varieties if you need them. Put them in a shallow bowl and mix in a half cup of Parmesan cheese. Set the mixture aside.
Beat two eggs and set them aside in another shallow bowl. Sift flour onto both sides of the chicken pieces, using about two tablespoons. Dip the floured chicken into the egg, then press it into the breadcrumb and cheese mixture on both sides. Let your handiwork sit for about fifteen minutes while you prepare the frying pan.
Here's where you're going to make the biggest difference in your chicken Parmesan -- careful frying which will result in a crispy, light bite when you eat it. Set your burner to medium-high and warm a cup of olive oil in a large frying pan. Cook the chicken breasts for about two minutes a side to a golden color. It doesn't need to be cooked through at this point -- the oven baking is still to come.
Bringing everything together for the final step, put the chicken in a baking dish or, if you like, a cast-iron skillet that's oven-proof. Add about a third of a cup of tomato sauce on top of each chicken breast. Put cubes of fresh Mozzarella, chopped fresh basil (you can substitute parsley, dried herbs or pesto) and grated provolone on top of each piece, then add a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan. Sprinkle a bit of olive oil on each.
In the preheated 450-degree F oven, bake this masterpiece for fifteen to twenty minutes. The chicken should no longer be pink on the inside with juices running clear, and the breading should be browning but still light and crispy. The cheese should be melted and blended, starting to bubble and even brown a little bit.
Remember, when your fried the chicken you left a little more cooking to do in the oven. Use a meat thermometer to make sure that each piece of chicken has reached at least 165 degrees F. Some devices include a steel-wrapped cable so that you can monitor the temperature from outside the oven.
We're bringing out the flavor in all parts of this recipe, so don't forget to energize the tomato sauce. Balanced against fresh Mozzarella, it will make a memorable dish. If you're buying sauce, make sure that yours has crushed tomatoes for fresh tomato taste and texture. Making your own, of course, you'll include that and also add a bit of sweet lightweight heat with a chopped Cubano pepper. If it fits your store-bought sauce, put it in there too.
An important way that this recipe stands apart from old-school chicken parm is in the use of fresh ingredients. Yes, you can use bags of shredded cheese and canned sauce, but if you find your grocery's fresh pasta offerings, you should also discover sauces and cheeses to match somewhere nearby. The kids may still devour theirs without tasting it much, but the adults at the table will savor every bite. It's part of the Italian spirit of abbondanza, the richness of life.
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