How to Make Delicious Double Crunch Chicken Parm
Chicken Parmesan is everything I love about comfort food. When done correctly, it brings together juicy chicken, crispy coating, a bright, sweet flavor of tomato sauce, and bubbly, browned mozzarella. I’ve put a special spin on this Italian-American classic by making it doubly crispy, and adding a layer of pesto ricotta. I’ll walk you through all the steps – I’ve included a full recipe below that you can print out and have on-hand at home.
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The Origins of Chicken Eggplant Parmesan
Chicken Parmesan is uniquely Italian-American, but it’s origins stem from the traditional Italian dish, Melanzane Alla Parmigiana, better known to us as Eggplant Parmesan. The “classic” Chicken Parmesan wasn’t created until the 1880s, when over 3 million Italian immigrants arrived in America. In Italy at the time, chicken wasn’t widely available, and very expensive. When they arrived in America, Italian immigrants combined old-world recipes with newly available and affordable ingredients, altering classic dishes like Eggplant Parmesan into new variations.
Contrary to popular belief, the dish is not, in fact, named for the city of Parma. The “Parma” theory sprouted because of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which is from the Parma region, but food historians would point out that Parmigiano cheese had been widely available across the country since the fourteenth century. Also, Parma is in northern Italy, while the first appearance of eggplant is known to Sicily, in southern Italy, and the dish was popular in Campania and Naples, which are also in the South.
Historians are split on whether the dish originated in Sicily or Naples – several Sicilian words are associated with the word “parmigiana”, including palmigiana, which is a window shutter with slats that the eggplant resembles when it’s layered in the dish. The first known written recipe, however, appeared in an Italian cookbook in Naples in 1786. General consensus seems to conclude the dish was born in the south of Italy, it’s original version being pan-fried eggplant with herbs and spices, Parmigiano cheese, baked with either tomato or egg-yolk cream sauce.
What Goes Good With Chicken Parm?
While Chicken Parm is great on its own, there are many options to pair it with a starch and/or a vegetable dish. In your favorite Italian restaurants it’s most commonly served with pasta, but it’s nice to mix it up and get creative. I’m of the mind that when pairing food you need to balance the richness, acidity, and textures to get the best flavor and experience out of the dish. The rich cheese and roasted tomato sauce of my Chicken Parmesan recipe both provide and balance the acidity. A simple vegetable like green beans or sauteed spinach finished with lemon is my go to. You could also do a bright, citrusy caesar salad to help cut through the richness of the parmesan and mozzarella. Rice pilaf, orzo pasta or cauliflower rice would also be great pairings for the dish as well.
Double Crunch Parmesan Crusted Chicken!
- 1.5 Pounds Chicken Breast
- 3 Ea Whole Eggs Whisk Together
- 10 oz Bread Crumbs
- 2 Cups AP Flour
- 1 Cup Shredded Parmesan
- 1 Ea Lemon Zested
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 2 tsp Salt & Pepper
- 1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 1/4 Cup Shredded Parmesan Reserve ¼ Cup to Finish
- 1 Cup Ricotta Cheese
- 2 TBL Pesto (See Recipe Above)
- To Taste Salt & Pepper
- 1 TBL Olive Oil
Roasted Tomato Sauce
- 2 Large Cans Whole Tomatoes
- 1 Medium Yellow Onion Rough Cut
- 4 oz Whole Basil
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 2-4 Ea Cloves of Garlic
- 1 TBL Salt & Pepper
Roasted Tomato Sauce
- Preheat oven at 425°
- In a 10” roasting pan with high walls, combine and mix all ingredients until fully coated and incorporated.
- Roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes until tomatoes start to brown and become fragrant
- Once roasted, add the contents of the pan to a blender, or bowl using an immersion stick. Add 2 TBL of olive oil to the tomato mixture and blend on high for 3-4 minutes until smooth. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
- First, lay plastic wrap down to cover the cutting board or surface you’re working on
- Place the chicken breasts on top of the plastic wrap, and cover with another layer of plastic wrap on top
- In a shallow pan or bowl, mix together breadcrumbs, lemon zest, onion/garlic powder, parmesan cheese, and salt/pepper.
- In a separate pan or bowl, whisk together 3 whole eggs with 2 TBL of water
- In a third pan or bowl, add a pinch of salt to the AP flour and mix
- Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides
- Place one chicken breast in AP flour mixture, turn over and dredge thoroughly. Lightly dust off the excess flour.
- Place the chicken in the egg mixture, and turn over to thoroughly coat. Then place the chicken into the bread crumbs and turn over again. Press firmly into the mixture to make sure it is fully coated. Add back to egg mixture and repeat with the bread crumbs.
- In a saute pan over medium heat add enough vegetable oil so it’s ¼ high in the pan.
- Once the oil is hot and shimmering add one chicken breast. Cook on each side until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes a side. Repeat with the other chicken breast.
- Set chicken aside
- Add ricotta cheese, pesto (Link Above), olive oil, salt and pepper to a mixing bowl and incorporate thoroughly.
Finishing Chicken Parmesan
- In a 10" Pyrex or roasting pan, add a ¼ Cup of roasted tomato sauce to the bottom
- Place chicken on top, and add more tomato sauce to cover the chicken. Add a generous spoonful of pesto ricotta to the middle of each breast and flatten gently. Top with mozzarella and more shredded parmesan.
- Bake in a 350° oven for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starts to brown.