Served over spaghetti, or zucchini spirals for a low-carb meal, chicken parmigiana is my go-to Italian-American favorite. I like to first pound the chicken flat, making it fork-tender. Or see the note at the end for eggplant parmigiana—a wonderful vegetarian dish. Delizioso.
Pairs well with a Caesar salad and a glass of Sangiovese.
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup kalamata olives, pitted
- ½ bunch fresh basil leaves, divided, remaining for finished dish
- 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
- Pinch coconut or raw sugar (balances the acidity of the tomatoes)
- Pinch red pepper flakes (optional, depending on how spicy you like it)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chicken and Pasta
- 4 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless (about 1 ½ pounds)
- ½ cup all-purpose unbleached flour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 cup dried panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (real “Parmesan” cheese), freshly grated, plus extra for sprinkling
- ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, plus extra for finished dish
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella (di bufala or burrata are the best), thinly sliced
- 1 pound spaghetti pasta, cooked al dente
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Coat a saute pan with olive oil and place over medium heat. When the oil gets hazy, add the onions, garlic, and bay leaves; cook and stir for 5 minutes until fragrant and soft. Add the olives and some hand-torn basil, reserve the rest of the basil for finishing the chicken. Carefully add the tomatoes (nothing splashes like tomatoes), cook and stir until the liquid is cooked down and the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes (reducing heat to a simmer when it begins to bubble); season with sugar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Lower the heat, cover, and keep warm.
- Gather the ingredients and 3 shallow dishes to create a little assembly line for preparing the chicken. Put the flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, combine the eggs and water; beat until frothy. Put the bread crumbs in a shallow platter, add the 1 cup Parmesan, chopped parsley, and garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper and stir with a fork until thoroughly combined.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high flame in a large oven-proof skillet. Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour; and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off; then dredge in the bread crumbs. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once.
- Remove bay leaves from sauce. Ladle the tomato-olive sauce over the chicken and arrange the mozzarella on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Sprinkle with remaining fresh basil and parsley. Serve hot with spaghetti.
Note: This is a dish created by Italian immigrants, which originally may have been inspired by Italian melanzane alla parmagiana, Eggplant Parmigiana, made by substituting the chicken with eggplant. Before starting your tomato sauce, trim and slice eggplant ½-inch thick. Some say to salt and let drain onto a paper towel-lined plate to release the extra moisture, but I honestly never do this. Proceed with step 3 using the eggplant in lieu of the chicken.