Instead of calling this dish “pollo di parmigiano” or “pollo con parmigiano” or any other permutations that my crappy language skills can foster, I instead have decided to entitle this dish with the better known “chicken parmesan” sobriquet. The reason is that my elite research skills, also known as “google” and looking in a few Italian cookbooks, cannot find an appropriate recipe that is similar to the one below.
That’s not to say that this dish doesn’t exist in Italy as it probably does, I just don’t think it orginated in Parma. If I were to foster a guess, the recipe is an US immigrated Southern Italian take of what they recalled Northern Italy food to be, and using a much cheaper chicken fillet instead of a veal cutlet (which Parma most certainly had a breaded version). Of course my Italian food knowledge is only slightly better than the folks at Chef Boy-ar-dee, and that isn’t saying all that much.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
- 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 cup dried bread crumbs
- 3 Tablespoons chopped Italian Parsley
- 8 oz mozzarella, sliced into 8 pieces
- red pepper flakes, for garnish
Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Place a large skillet over medium heat and add 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Allow to heat for 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, and sweat them for about 8 minutes, until the become soft, but not yet translucent. Pour in the two cans of diced tomatoes, add the tomato paste, bay leaves, and 1/2 of the basil. Allow to cook for 15 minutes, by which time, the sauce will become thickened.
While the sauce is cooking put the chicken breasts on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them. Pound the chicken breasts with a flat meat mallet, until they are tenderized.
Put the flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, combine the eggs and water, beat until frothy. Put the bread crumbs on a plate, season with salt and pepper and combine with the Italian Parsley.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large oven-proof skillet. Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg, coating completely. Then dredge in the bread crumbs. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once. Remove the skillet from heat, but keep the fillets within.
By this time the sauce should be done. Ladle over the chicken fillets. Top each breast with two slices of Mozzarella. Place the skillet into the oven and allow to bake for 15 minutes.
Serve on pasta and garnish with remaining basil and red pepper flakes.