What’s better than fried chicken? Italian fried chicken! (aka Chicken Parmigiana)

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I’m not going to lie – I cheat a little on this recipe.  Given everything that’s involved, it’s just not worth making my own sauce.  And really, any time sauce is baked, I’ve never seen an appreciable difference.

I mean, it’s chicken.  Deep-fried.  Then topped with some pasta sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan, then baked. You can make the most fantastic sauce ever (which I do – just ask) and you won’t notice the difference.

Chicken Parmesan

So the recipe is basically what I said – we’re going to fry some chicken, then bake it.  It’s not fancy, but it’s home-cooked Italian, and IMO better than you’ll get in any restaurant.

To start with, there’s got to be a pasta side.  It wouldn’t be right otherwise.  So start up some water with some salt for that.  And, set the oven for 350F.

Now, for the real business.  Take three bowls.  In the first, put about a cup of flour (you don’t need to measure any of this by the way), around a tablespoon of nutmeg, and roughly two teaspoons of pepper.  In the second, beat two eggs.  The third, a 50/50 mix of Italian breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese – again quantity doesn’t matter, but you’ll want to err on the side of ‘more’.  I put about two cups in total.

In a large skillet, add about 3/4″ deep of olive oil.  I know the flash point sucks, but it really does make a difference in flavor.  Turn the heat up high, but never turn your back on it, and try not to splash any – especially if you have a gas stove.  “Whoomp” is not a good sound.  Ever.

Next take one chicken breast per person.  I try and pick the smaller ones because they’re just so friggin’ big these days.  Take each one, cover them with a layer of wax paper, and beat them with a (meat) hammer to an even thickness – I try for about 1/2″ to 3/4″ across.  By the time you’re done beating your meat, the oil should be ready, so it’s time to dredge – coat in the flour mixture, then the egg, then the breadcrumb/Parm mix.  Each time, try and cover every bit.  Then into the oil (and you can assembly line this because the first one into the oil will be the first one out)

While the chicken is cooking, take a 9×13″ pan and coat with canola or whatever your non-stick is.

Check the chicken, flip when the bottom side is starting to get golden, and keep an eye on it.  Once you’ve flipped the chicken, wait about three minutes and check to see if the juices are clear.

Hopefully, that water you started earlier is boiling now, because it’s your timer.  Take the chicken and put it in the 9×13.  Lay down a bead of pasta sauce, top with mozzarella, and a sprinkling of Parm.  Put them in the oven and start the pasta – I like penne for this sort of meal, but whatever you like, capice?  Let the pasta cook for the minimum of the package, and literally, when that’s done (penne is around nine minutes) everything is done, and you can just plate like a crazy person.

Shopping list:

  • Jar of sauce (or about 14oz of home-made if you’re feeling ambitious)
  • Chicken breasts (one per person)
  • Pound of short-ish pasta (whatever you like)
  • Italian breadcrumbs
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Mozzarella (I use enough to buy the shredded from Costco)
  • nutmeg
  • flour
  • pepper
  • olive oil