My family LOVES chicken parmigiana. I mean, like every single one of us could eat it regularly and not grow tired of it. And when I made last post’s marinara sauce, I used the sauce to make chicken parmigiana for Steve and Pops. It was consumed in between many words of praise.
Interestingly, Pops claims to have never had chicken parmigiana, or even parmesan chicken (as we call it in these parts). Given that he is 80, I find that really hard to believe. But that’s what he said. Since he loves Italian food, I thought this would be right up his alley. And though he may not have had it before, let me tell you, that man LOVED this dish as much as Steve and my boys. It’s definitely a Kemph love-it-a-lot thing.
Parmesan chicken is a very traditional dish, and there are only so many ways of making it My recipe is pretty straight forward. What makes mine a little different is the way I season the chicken. I use the Brazilian custom of adding pressed garlic and lime juice, which is a common seasoning option for seafood and white meats. I love what it does to chicken parmigiana, because it brings a fresh and full-bodied flavor to the chicken that is quite unique.
Steve came off the road today, and artichokes are in season. I decided that a combo of chicken parmigiana and fresh artichoke was about as Italian as you could get without ending all your words with an extra vowel at the end. So that’s what his dinner will be tonight, and the chicken parmigiana recipe is what I’m sharing with you today.
let’s make chicken parmigiana
Fresh mozzarella is key. It just melts in an ooey-gooey way that can’t be achieved with shredded part-skim mozzarella.
I made the easy marinara sauce this morning, let it cool, and then covered it until I was ready to use it. Of course, that meant the house smelled amazing since this morning.
Start with the chicken. I had three breasts, which made the fit in the oven dish a little tight, but that’s how many were in the store pack. Of course, they were thick. I don’t like thick chunks of breast meat in my chicken parmigiana, so I used a very sharp knife to cut them down the middle horizontally. Then I pounded them down a bit between sheets of plastic to break down the muscle fibers and tenderize the meat.
Then I seasoned the chicken with the lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. You only need the juice of half the lime. We’re going for a fresh pop of chicken flavor, not to make the chicken taste like lime.
Set the chicken aside and assemble your other ingredients.
Coat the chicken in egg, and then cover with Italian bread crumbs. You can use plain bread crumbs too. I don’t recommend Panko bread crumbs because they are not as sweet as regular or Italian. I like the little bit of sweetness the bread crumbs contribute as a counter balance to the acidity of the marinara sauce.
Then fry the breaded chicken breasts in just a bit of olive oil. It doesn’t take long. Just 2-3 minutes per side to get them nice and browned. Don’t worry if they are not fully cooked. They will definitely be fully cooked after going into the oven.
Transfer the chicken to a 9 x 13-inch oven-safe dish.
Cover with the marinara sauce.
Top with parmesan.
And then cover with the fresh mozzarella slices.
Take it to the oven until it comes out looking something like this.
The sauce is bubbly, the cheese is all ooey-gooey and just starting to caramelize.
I cannot tell you how good the house smells right now.
And when this little beauty gets put on a plate, the gloves are off!
Moist and tender chicken with a pop of freshness from the lime and the layers of seasoned garlic. A tangy tomato sauce with the sharpness of the parmesan, covered with the luxurious cap of decadent fresh mozzarella. Garnish with a bit of fresh parsley and go to town!
So guilty of not waiting for Steve! But yum, oh yum, oh yum! I know he’ll forgive me. And you know why? Cause he’s getting some too! Once he tastes this, he’ll see why I couldn’t resist.
C’mon…you want some chicken parmigiana. I know you do. 🙂
- 3 chicken breasts about 2 lbs
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 2 large garlic cloves pressed
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs as needed
- 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano grated
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 2 eggs beaten
- 16 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced
- 4-6 tablespoons olive oil as needed for frying
- Fresh chopped parsley for garnish optional
- Preheat an oven to 425° F.
- Using a very sharp knife, slice the chicken breasts horizontally for a thinner cut of meat. Place between sheets of plastic wrap and pound slightly to tenderize. Then place in a large bowl and season the chicken with the fresh garlic, lime juice, salt, and pepper.
- Beat the eggs pour the bread crumbs, each in large dishes.
- Coat each chicken slice in the egg, then dredge in the bread crumbs until fully covered.
- Heat a cast iron or other heavy skillet to medium, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, and brown the chicken breasts (about 2-3 minutes per side.)
- Place the browned chicken breasts in a single layer on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch deep baking dish. Top evenly with the marinara sauce, then sprinkle the parmesan, and then top with the slices of fresh mozzarella.
- Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is fully melted and/or just starting to caramelize.
- Let sit for about 5 minutes for the sauce to settle, then serve.
YES! Most restaurants don’t bother thinning the breast or marinating it, making for a very dull chicken parmigiana.
I won’t make a chicken breast anymore without pounding it down a little. It’s the only way to cook it through fast enough to avoid getting a dry chunk of fibrous white meat.