A dish you can have on the table in under 30 minutes
Coming across this recipe was like running into an old friend. It’s from “Bobby at Home: Fearless Flavors from My Kitchen” (Clarkson Potter 2019), Bobby Flay’s latest cookbook. In it he says, “I challenge you to find someone out there who won’t succumb to a plate of Chicken Parmesan.” Since I basically went straight from the book to the Supermarket, I’d would be one of those who succumbed. This is such a great dish. Let’s face it, it’s basically fried chicken topped a rich Marinara sauce and a lot more fresh mozzarella than Parmesan. And in this iteration, with its arugula topping, it’s a one-dish wonder. As to ease, it also permits the use of store-bought Marinara Sauce. And I discovered that using the split chicken breasts, that have been cut into two cutlets, didn’t even need the prescribed meat pounder. I had this lovely dish on the table in all of 30 minutes.
Chicken Parm is one of the great classics of Italian American Cuisine
Chicken Parmesan or Parmigiana, if you want to try and Italianize it, is purely Italian American. Granted it takes its inspiration from Melanzane alla Parmigiana, the truly Italian dish in which eggplant is breaded, fried, covered with tomato sauce and Reggiano Parmigiano cheese and then baked. It’s probable that America’s Italian Restaurant owners saw how Americans preferred meat over eggplant and made the switch to chicken. As immigrants, Italians were finally able to afford the meat that hadn’t been part of their diets in Italy itself. So there was a lot of status attached to meat-eating. Another plausible reason is that eggplants themselves just weren’t commonly grown in the States.
A little more Italian lore…
The origin of Melanzane alla Parmigiana is also the subject of some debate. Parmigiano cheese originates around the northern Italian city of Parma. The name translates to “In the style of Parma”. So Parma got the nod. But Eggplant was far more common in the South of Italy where most of the early Italian Americans came from. Both Puglia and Naples lay claim to being the home of Eggplant Parmigiano. Whatever its origins, in the pantheon of Italian American classics like Spaghetti and Meatballs, Penne alla Vodka and Cioppino, Chicken Parm is high on the list of everyone’s favorites. Here is Bobby Flay’s Recipe and after it, several other Italian American classics.
Bobby Flay's Chicken Parmesan
A great take on an Italian American classic that oozes mozzarella, rich tomato sauce, peppery arugula, and fried chicken cutlets.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 1 pinch Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- 3 cups Marinara Sauce or your favorite store-bought marinara sauce, warmed
- 1 pinch freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 ounces baby arugula
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 425°F. Working with one breast at a time, place chicken breasts on a cutting board, flat side down. Press the chicken with the palm of one hand, and cut in half horizontally to make 2 cutlets. With the flat side of a meat pounder, pound the chicken between pieces of plastic wrap until about ¼ inch thick.
- Step 2 Put the flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes and season each with salt and pepper. Season each chicken cutlet on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge each cutlet in the flour and tap off any excess. Dip in the eggs and let the excess drip off. Dredge in the bread crumbs, pressing the crumbs to adhere to the chicken. Transfer the breaded chicken to a baking sheet or large plate.
- Step 3 Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Heat ¼ cup of the canola oil in a large sauté pan over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add 2 pieces of the chicken to the hot oil and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to the wire rack on the baking sheet. Heat the remaining ¼ cup canola oil and cook the remaining chicken.
- Step 4 Divide the mozzarella evenly among the chicken breasts. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- Step 5 Remove the chicken from the oven. Put one chicken breast on each of four plates, ladle hot marinara sauce over the top, and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Step 6 In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Add the arugula and season with salt and pepper. Top each plate with some arugula and serve.