Chicken Parm Baby!
Guess what? It didn’t snow today! It’s hard to believe, I know, but we got a small respite from the ridiculous weather we’ve been having. We’ve had a fairly busy week at work, so I wasn’t sure I was even going to pull this off, but luckily there some time to cook tonight, and we got to have a lovely dinner and blow off some steam about the day.
This dish is a bit of a throwback for me, and could even be identified as the first real dish I ever learned how to cook. Where I grew up in suburban New Jersey, you can’t walk 5 feet without running into a small independent pizzeria, sub shop, or family-owned Italian restaurant in a strip mall. They all serve some amazing food, and I have this belief that everyone who grows up in New Jersey is a little bit Italian! I grew up eating amazing pizza, meatball subs, sausage with peppers, and my personal favorite both out and at home, chicken parmigiana. This particular version has a nod to my step-mother Judy and features some Muenster cheese to give an extra cheesy-stretchy consistency and another dimension of flavor. We got to enjoy it tonight with some wine, bread, and salad, as well as a small symphony of barks from the dog. Please take your time making this and enjoy!
Chicken Parmigiana (Serves 4)
- 4 chicken cutlets, sliced or pounded very thin
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs (regular, or panko)
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or a blend of cheeses)
- 4 slices muenster cheese
- 1 cup tomato sauce (homemade or jarred)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- grated parmesan cheese
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, a small pinch of parmesan, salt and pepper and lay out on a small plate. Lay flour out on another small plate. Beat eggs in a wide bowl and season with some salt and pepper.
- For each piece of chicken, dredge in flour to coat completely and shake off as much excess as possible, then run through the eggs and cover completely with the breadcrumb mixture. Set aside on a plate. Let the breaded chicken pieces sit untouched for 10 minutes.
- Spread a layer of the sauce in a 9×13 casserole dish and scatter the minced garlic evenly. Add a little crushed red pepper if you want.
- Heat 3-4 tbsp. of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is very hot (not a moment too soon), brown chicken pieces on both sides, about 3 minutes a side. You just want to brown the outsides, it may not be cooked all the way through. After you flip the chicken, season the original side with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Flip and remove chicken to the baking dish in one layer and season the other side. Cover pieces with 1 slice of muenster each, then top with the mozzarella and as much parmesan as you like. Cover with foil.
- Bake at 350 for 20 minutes with the foil on, and then take the foil off and broil for 2 minutes to brown the cheese on top, watching carefully to make sure nothing burns.
- After removing from the oven, let the dish sit for 2-3 minutes before serving so the cheese can firm up a bit. Serve with pasta or a side salad, and some good bread and wine.