My Mother’s Chicken Parmesan

chicken parm

I am about to share something very sacred with all of you. Do you recall your first food memory? Maybe something a parent, guardian, day care professional, or nanny made for you? That one special food that always just makes you feel warm, tingly, and loved? This is my version of that. Ever since I was three or four years old I remember my mom making her famous chicken parmesan.

My brother and I often fondly recall this dish and how she used to call it “pizza chicken” to sell it to us because let’s be real, as an adult the words chicken parmesan evoke a sense of delight; but as a child naming off Italian cheeses means absolutely nothing to you. But honestly I think my mom nailed it by calling this dish pizza chicken. The sauce and cheese on top of the chicken do have that ooey gooey pizza feel, but when you are able to pair all of that with a perfectly fried chicken breast you find yourself faced with pure bliss.

Cooking the perfect chicken parmesan can seem very intimidating, but this is actually the first dish I learned how to make on my own. Over the past few years I managed to turn this childhood favorite into a true dinner party crowd pleaser.

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon your favorite hot sauce, I use sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup any marinara sauce that you enjoy
  • 1 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil
  • salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Your prep work is going to start with three bowls. In the first bowl combine the flour and a half tablespoon of salt and pepper. In the second bowl combine the eggs and hot sauce. In the third bowl combine both types of breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese.

Next salt and pepper your chicken breasts. Even though we are building some serious flavors in the crust of the chicken always make sure to salt and pepper your meat.. Start the breading process by covering the chicken in the flour. Then move to the egg mixture, making sure to get off any excess. Finally cover your chicken with the breadcrumb mixture, really make sure to get every bit of surface area covered. After your chicken is breaded heat up two tablespoons of olive oil and the butter over medium-high heat. Put your chicken in the pan and cook it for three to five minutes a side. You might have to cook your chicken in two batches. As each piece of chicken gets to be a beautiful shade of golden brown put it in a baking dish. Once all of your chicken is done frying cover the dish in foil and put it in the oven for 17 minutes. I know this seems like a random number, but I’ve found that is the magic number.

For the next several minutes you can either chill out and watch TV or catch up on your current reads, or you can prepare your side dish. I took it easy and then cooked up some spaghetti and marinara sauce.

After the 17 minute period is up take your chicken our of the oven and remove the foil. Pour the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in the pan/on top of the chicken. Then pour the cup of marinara on the chicken. You do not want to put too much sauce on the chicken or the crust can get soggy. If you have sauce left put it in the empty spaces in the pan. Then sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining parmesan all over the pan. Not just on the chicken, but in the empty spaces in the pan too, I will talk about that in a minute. Top it off with the fresh basil.

Throw that bad boy back in the oven for about 10 minutes so the cheese can get all melty and gooey. Now remember how I told you about pouring sauce and cheese in the nooks and crannies of the pan? Here is where that comes into play. Did you notice that little nugget on my plate in the food photo? That is a little bit of what my family likes to call pan goop. Pan goop is that magical moment of when you have your cheese and sauce come together to form nothing but unadulterated, cheesy gooeyness. My brother and I have been known to argue over who gets the better bits of pan goop, it is that intense. So with your chicken I recommend a serving of pasta topped with parmesan and basil as well as a healthy serving of pan goop.

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