Chicken Parmigiana alla Caprese
Chicken Parmigiana is an Italian American favorite. You can find it everywhere, from fine restaurants to the neighborhood deli. This also holds true in my family as this dish is one of my son, Andrew’s, favorite meals. Even so I have not made it in a long time, so the other day I decided to surprise him.
The key to a delicious Chicken Parm is quality ingredients–a fresh tomato sauce, fresh, quality mozzarella cheese, crispy and flavorful breading, and moist, tender chicken.
To accomplish these goals, it is important to choose the right ingredients. First, start with panko breadcrumbs for a crispier breading, and season them yourself. This will guarantee that the flavors are fresh and tailored to your taste.
Typically this dish is baked with the tomato sauce, but in my version I bake it with fresh tomato slices, and then when ready to serve it I place the chicken over a bed of fresh marinara sauce. Placing the chicken on top of the sauce at the time of serving, keeps the chicken from becoming soggy, and it presents very nicely.
Let’s get started . . .
The first thing I do is make the marinara sauce. The recipe is in my “essential recipes“. Here, for your convenience, are the ingredients you will need.
1 – 28 oz. cans Whole Peeled Tomatoes (San Marzano preferred)
1 – medium onion (about 1 cup diced onion)
3 – cloves garlic
6 – fresh basil leaves
1/8 – tsp. red pepper flakes
3/4 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 – cup dry white wine (optional)
Ingredients for the breading:
3 – cups plain panko breadcrumbs
1 – cup grated or shredded Parmigiano cheese (parmesan)
1 – tbls. dried oregano
1 1/4 – tsp. ground black pepper
1 1/2 – tsp. salt
3/4 – tsp. garlic powder
Ingredients for chicken cutlet:
8 – pieces of chicken cutlet (not the thin sliced cutlets)
1 – cup all purpose flour
2 – eggs
1/2 – cup milk
salt and ground black pepper to taste
Seasoning the breadcrumbs.
Place all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix until completely combined.
Now let’s prepare the chicken.
Do not buy the thin sliced cutlets that you find in the grocery stores. These are too thin and will become dry and overcooked. Buy whole cutlets and slice them in half for the perfect thickness.
Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Make an assembly line to bread the chicken. First in line is the flour on a flat plate; next in line is the egg and milk whisked together in a bowl or deep dish that will accommodate the size of the meat, and third place the seasoned breadcrumbs on a flat plate.
Sprinkle a little salt and ground black pepper on each side of the chicken cutlets, then coat one at a time with the flour. Shake off any excess flour and dip in the egg mixture making sure to coat the chicken completely. Next, coat the chicken with the bread crumbs to cover the entire surface. Press down the meat firmly into the crumbs so they adhere to the meat, and place the breaded pieces on a plate. Cover the breaded chicken with plastic wrap or waxed paper and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. The cold helps the crumbs to become more firm and they adhere better to the meat. This will help to prevent the breading from coming off during frying.
Now heat a little canola oil in a large skillet and add the chicken, but do not over crowd the pan. Cook on a medium flame until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side.
Once it is browned on both sides, place it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. You will finish cooking the chicken in the oven.
Complete browning all the chicken cutlets, then place them in a 400o oven and bake about 10 minutes. If you are not sure if the chicken is cooked, you can use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. The safe temperature for chicken is 165oF.
Remove the tray of chicken from the oven, and top each cutlet with Parmigiano cheese.
Then add two slices of tomato to each cutlet. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top, and sprinkle a little salt and oregano over the tomatoes and top off with fresh mozzarella cheese.
Turn the oven on Broil, and place the tray of chicken in the oven and cook until the cheese starts to brown. Watch it carefully so you do not burn the cheese.
Remove and sprinkle some chopped fresh basil on top.
Let’s assemble the plate
Place about two large spoonfuls of marinara sauce on the plate. Lay one cutlet on top of the sauce. This meal goes well with mashed potatoes, creamy polenta, and a vegetable of your choice. I served this meal with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus.
Makes 8 servings