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Chicken Parmesan
August 10, 2017, 4:45 pm
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Chicken Parmesan only needs a few things to go from great to excellent — perfectly golden and still juicy chicken is chief among them. Pounding chicken breast into even pieces, coating them well, and then frying until crisp and cooked through first. The other steps — covering with sauce and cheese — will come easily and only improve the already stand-out chicken. So if you are looking to master this classic, the following recipe will show you how.

For this recipe, you will need:
1 1/4 to 2 cups olive oil (not
extra-virgin)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt,
divided, plus more for
seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 cups Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (around 750g total)
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
113 grams fresh mozzarella, sliced
113 grams part-skim mozzarella, sliced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Start with thinner chicken: Chicken parmesan requires thin, crispy cutlets of chicken, so your first step is to make sure they are of even thickness so they cook at a similar time. If you are starting with chicken breasts that are on the larger side, cut in half widthwise before pounding. You can even cut the breast partway through, lengthwise like a book and open it up to butterfly and then pound it, but this means you can end up with a chicken breast that is bigger than a dinner plate and will not fit in a pan.

Pounding: Cut two pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper that are big enough to cover your work surface or cutting board. Put one piece on it and place a breast half on top. Place the second piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper on top. To pound, you can use the bottom of a small saucepan or the flat side of a meat mallet. Then, firmly tap the breasts until they are a uniform thickness of 1/2 inch. Start at the middle and work your way out, nudging the chicken down and slightly out, being careful not to tear the meat. The thinner outer edges will need very little pounding. Note that the plastic may suffer a puncture here and there, so once you are done with the raw chicken, do not use the work surface for anything else until you have washed it with hot water and plenty of soap.

Set up a breading station: Line up three shallow bowls or 20cm square rimmed dishes side by side. Place the flour, one teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper in the first dish and mix to combine. Place the eggs, water, and remaining one teaspoon of the salt to the second dish and beat lightly with a fork to combine. Pour the breadcrumbs into the third dish. Once done, dip a chicken breast into the flour, turn to coat, and pat off any excess. Dip into the eggs and turn to coat. Then finally place in the breadcrumbs, patting well on both sides so the crumbs stick. The chicken should be completely coated. Place on a baking sheet or large plate.

Pan-frying:

Use plenty of oil: Crispy chicken has to be fried in enough oil so that it covers the cutlet. For a 1.25cm-thick cutlet, the oil should be 2cm deep. Oil amount is dependent on surface area, so if you have a bigger pan, you will need more oil.

Thermometer is not required: If you do not have a deepfrying thermometer, you can heat the oil over medium heat and carefully drop in a small piece (about 2.5cm square) of bread; it should brown in about 40 seconds at the right temperature.

Skim the oil between batches: Make sure to scoop out any little pieces of chicken or breading that fall off between batches to prevent them from burning. Keep that cutlet crisp until the last second: Since the goal is to keep the chicken crisp until the last moment, make sure to top with sauce and cheese just before baking and broiling.

Use three cheeses: Your chicken Parmesan does not just need Parmesan for topping. Up the cheese-pull factor by using fresh and part-skim mozzarella along with the grated Parmesan. Thankfully, fresh mozzarella can be found at every grocery store. It tastes milky and fresh, but for melty stretch, nothing works as well as the low-moisture packaged variety. Pair them with the rich and salty flavors of real-deal freshly grated or shredded Parmigiano- Reggiano, and you have got a formula that cannot be beat.

Baking: Once you have your cheese ready, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 191 degrees Celsius. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan or a large casserole dish in a single layer. Add the marinara sauce over the cutlets and top with the mozzarella cheeses. Sprinkle with Parmesan and red pepper flakes. Bake until the cheeses are fully melted and the Parmesan is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

 

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