Pollo alla parmiggiana
(Chicken Parmesan)

I made this one Sunday after catching someone doing such a dish out of the corner of my eye on Saturday, one of those cooking shows PBS likes to broadcast. At the store Saturday afternoon, I was looking for something easy to do, having just driven back from Oklahoma that morning. On the program, they called it “chicken parmesan.” I did research on the web to get an ingredient list, but the main recipe I got my list from would not work because the person who wrote it obviously didn’t understand breading. If you follow what I do here, it will come out great.

Brining the cutlets will make them more forgiving for over-cooking in the skillet or leaving them a little too long in the oven.

Here’s the list and method I used and it worked quite well. It calls for you to supply a ragú sauce. I made my own out of onions sautéed in olive oil, some salt, pepper and other spices plus canned tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Even better, I use my pomarola sauce.

This recipe has been a crowd pleaser at my house. I haven’t tried substituting rice flour for sufferers of cœliac disease. It should work fine, however.

A veal parmiggiano could be made from this recipe by substituting that meat for the chicken.


Serves 6.


  3 chicken breasts
  3 eggs, beaten
  1½ cups fresh panko bread crumbs
  1½ cups parmiggiano reggiano, finely grated
  4 tbsp olive oil
  ragú sauce
  3 thick mozzarella slices


1. Either cut the breasts in half lengthwise and flatten to produce 6 filets or pound out flat, then make cutlets. Since my local grocer consistently fields the hugest possible breast filets, I do the first, sometimes cutting the breasts after they’ve spent an hour in the freezer (to make the knife work easier). Brine one-half hour.

Tip: After brining, rinse the cutlet and pat thoroughly dry.

2. Make crumbs of the bread, no crust, in food processor. I use fresh-baked, artisan bread of my own fabrication. It has no sugar or fat in it, so it breads well and doesn’ taste funny. Mix with cheese and spread out on a large plate. Spread flour out on a large plate. Beat eggs in large bowl.

Tip: If you use only egg whites, you’ll a) probably not miss the yolk’s contribution to the flavor, b) have correspondingly less fat in the dish, and c) find that the breading is lighter and crispier. However, using the whole egg produces a fine cutlet also.

3. Preheat 2 tbsp oil in skillet to medium hot.

4. Dredge dry cutlets in flour and shake as much flour off as will fall. Immerse in beaten egg. Lay in crumb mixture, turn and press down to seat the crumbs and cheese well.

Tip: If you dredge in flour, spank the cutlet well to shake off all the flour you can. For extra flavor in the breading, premix a pinch of garlic powder and fresh-ground black pepper into the flour. After dipping the dredged cutlet into the beaten egg, coat with bread crumbs and cheese pressing these into the cutlet.

Tip: If you want to get ahead, perform the breading and refrigerate the cutlets. They'll keep a number of hours very well. I put them on clean plates and stack the plates in the refrigerator with no cutlet sitting atop anything but a plate. This also makes the breading stick pretty well so no difficulty there.

5. Place cutlet in very lightly oiled skillet (non-stick works well) and fry to light brown, turn and brown other side. This takes only a couple of minutes per side. Watch closely not to blacken the cheese, however.

Tip: Alternatively, set cutlets carefully on a wire rack over a half-sheet and bake for less fat. Spray the rack with no-stick cooking spray to keep from sticking. Spray again over the tops of the breaded cutlets to ensure crispness. This will not add an appreciable amount of oil. Bake at 475° for about 15 minutes. I think this tip comes from America’s Test Kitchen, but if you’re thinning the cutlets from whole breasts, I’s drastically decrease the time or you’ll be very disappointed by the dryness.

Tip: However, the preceding is not what I do. I put down some of my pomarola sauce in the bottom of a 13×9 Pyrex baking dish, lay on a slice of mozzarella, lay the next cutlet slightly over the top of the preceding one, and so on until the baking dish is full (probably about 5 cutlets at most). Then I ladle another dose of sauce over the whole thing and set in a 370° oven until I’m ready to serve, about 10 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 400°. In large, shallow oven dish, cover bottom with very hot ragú sauce (so the oven step doesn’t take forever). Lay cutlets slightly overlapping, drizzle a bit more sauce over all cutlets and cover each with a piece of mozzarella and a sprinkle of basil. Insert thermometer into dish and bake to 160-170°.

Tip: Even when I serve a dozen people, I like to use some oval, ceramic dishes and make each person’s portion separately although doing this plus making a vegetable dish and a starch, I find I need help in the kitchen assembling this dish. Put an ample amount of hot ragú or pomarola into the oval dish followed by the cutlet already browned, then a dab more ragú followed by a large slice of mozzarella and a dash of black pepper. Bake in oven until cheese is melted and almost browning.