Chicken parm, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken, ziti and broccoli, oh my! These are the dishes you will often find on my table. I am a native Italian and I love to cook. But I have been living in the US for almost 33 years now, so I must confess, my kitchen is not always “authentic Italian,” and these dishes speak to that. My family’s taste buds and recipes have changed since moving here so long ago, and we’ve adapted to what is most readily available at the main grocery store.
And there is something to be said for really good, homemade, Italian-American cuisine. It’s not always about being authentic; sometimes it’s about preparing a delicious dinner for your family, and forget if something would be approved by a food historian. And good old comfort food like chicken parm fits that bill.
It’s uncertain where this recipe comes from, most likely from Italian immigrants, who brought with them their recipe for eggplant parm, and one day decided to use chicken instead. Unlikely the US, produce in Italy is and always has been relatively inexpensive. It’s actually cheaper to eat healthy in Italy than the US! If you have been to the grocery store lately, you’ll find that the price of produce compares to that of chicken and seafood! And while you would not find this on the menu at an Italian restaurant in Italy, you would certainly find it in an Italian restaurant here in the US.
This restaurant-style dish is worth the effort, especially during the weekend when you have just a bit more time. It’s actually not a lot of work. The sauce cooks while you prepare the other ingredients, and in under an hour, you have a delicious meal. Use the sauce to dress some pasta, and you have a two-course meal with no added effort!
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ small onion, diced
2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped basil
Salt to taste – about 1 teaspoon
1 28 oz can of crushed peeled tomatoes
1 cup water
4 – 6 chicken breast cutlets, thinly sliced to about 1/3 inch in thickness
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups Italian breadcrumbs
¾ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Vegetable oil for frying
½ lb sliced provolone cheese or ½ lb shredded mozzarella
Instructions for the sauce
- In a medium saucepan, add the oil, onion, garlic, parsley, basil and salt and simmer for 2 – 3 minutes, until oil is hot and onion is slightly translucent.
- Carefully add the can of tomatoes. This will splatter about a bit as it hits the hot oil.
- Add the water. Reduce the heat to low, cover with lid and let that simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the cutlets.
Instructions for the cutlets
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a workstation and in two bowls add the lightly beaten eggs in one, and the breadcrumbs with the grated cheese in another. Blend the breadcrumbs and cheese with a fork. Dredge each chicken cutlet in the egg wash. After that, add to the bread/cheese bowl and coat chicken evenly. Continue with the rest of the chicken pieces. Place breaded cutlets on a clean dish.
- In a large frying pan add enough vegetable oil until it comes about ½ way up the pan. Heat the oil to about 350 degrees. (You can test the oil by tipping the handle of a wooden spoon, if it bubbles, the oil is hot enough.) Fry each cutlet for about 4 – 5 minutes per side. Remove from the oil and place on a dish lined with paper towels. Continue until all the cutlets are fried.
- Add several cups of the prepared sauce on a baking dish. Place cutlets in an even layer on the pan. Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, top each cutlet with one tablespoon of remaining sauce and gently spread over cutlets. Place a slice of provolone over each cutlet and return to the oven for 5 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and melted.
What to Pack for Italy
Cosa Mettere in Valigia per l'Italia
Everyone is always asking me what they should pack for Italy,
so I’ve created a quick reference guide that you can use for your next trip.
Hint: You don’t need nearly as much as you think you do!