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Ultra Crispy Chicken Parmesan

Serves 4     adjust servings

Learn how to make ULTRA crispy chicken parmesan! We've all been to a chain restaurant that served us a soggy excuse for this classic dish. Now you can make this easy recipe at home! Fried chicken cutlets are breaded with panko and topped with marinara and cheese, then broiled to perfection. 

Ingredients

For the egg mixture

  • 2 large chicken breasts, sliced thinly in half
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk*
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the flour dredge

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (yes really)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the breading

  • 1 and 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs

For frying

  • 1 inch of vegetable oil (or any high smoke point oil)

For the sauce

  • 1 24-ounce jar good quality marinara sauce
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2-4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (optional)

For the pasta

  • large pot of water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 12 ounces spaghetti or other long pasta

To top chicken

  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions

  1. Prepare the chicken. Use a sharp knife to slice each chicken breast in half horizontally, to create a thin cutlet. Start at the thick edge of the chicken breast. See photos. You should end up with 4 thin pieces of chicken that are the same shape as a chicken breast, just thinner.
  2. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle it over the chicken and rub it onto all the edges.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and 1/2 cup buttermilk.*
  4. Add the chicken to the egg mixture and let marinate for about 15-30 minutes, or up to 24 hours. If you are in a hurry, at least let it marinate while you prep everything.
  5. While the chicken is getting all juicy in the marinade, prepare your dredging station. Get two shallow bowls or pie plates. In one bowl, add 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1 tablespoon kosher salt (it sounds like a lot but trust me), 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 2 teaspoons oregano, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (this adds flavor, not heat). In the other bowl, add 1 and 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs.
  6. Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat in a high sided skillet. How much you need depends on how large your pan is. I used a 12 inch high sided skillet, and 1 inch of oil was at least 4-5 cups. You will need less oil in a smaller pan. Heat the oil over medium heat until a thermometer reads 400 degrees F. It will take at least 15 minutes.
  7. Bread the chicken. The basic order is egg, flour, egg, panko. Pick up one piece of chicken from the egg mixture and let it drip off. Place it in the bowl with the seasoned flour and turn it over several times to make sure it's entirely coated. Then place the floured chicken BACK into the egg mixture and coat thoroughly. Lift it out to drip, then add to the plate with the panko bread crumbs. Press the breadcrumbs into the chicken and make sure it's really well coated.
  8. Repeat with the remaining cutlets. You can begin frying right away if your oil is at 400 degrees, or if you are still waiting, let the breaded chicken sit in the fridge or freezer while you wait. This will help the breading adhere to the chicken.
  9. Fry the chicken cutlets. When your thermometer reaches 400 degrees F, it's ready. Carefully place the breaded chicken in the oil. (You need at least an inch or two of space in between chicken pieces, so you may have to do this in batches.) Set a timer for 2 minutes, until the bottom is a light golden brown. Use tongs to flip the chicken and fry for another 2 minutes. When the other side is golden brown, remove the chicken to a wire rack set over a baking sheet so that it stays crispy. Wait a few minutes in between batches to make sure your oil temperature gets back up to 400 degrees. If you are still finishing up the sauce, place the fried chicken in the oven on the "keep warm" setting (170 degrees F) while you finish.
  10. Meanwhile, make the sauce.** In a medium pot add a 24-ounce jar of marinara sauce (I love the Rao's brand). Add a can of petite diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 2 teaspoons oregano, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon dried basil, and 2-4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, if you have it. Heat this mixture over medium heat until bubbly. Keep warm.
  11. Make the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt. When it is boiling, add 12 ounces of spaghetti or other pasta. Boil and stir according to package directions, usually about 8-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain, drizzle with oil, and stir to coat so that the noodles don't stick to each other. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  12. To broil the chicken and cheese: Place the fried chicken in a broil-safe casserole dish or a baking sheet.Top with a generous spoonful of the sauce, but not so much that it covers all the edges. You want the edges to stay crispy. We worked so hard for it!
  13. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Top each spoonful of sauce with the cheese. Add extra cheese if you like!
  14. Place your oven rack as high as it will go. Broil the chicken under high heat for 2-5 minutes, checking the chicken every 1 minute. DO NOT WALK AWAY. You don't want to light your masterpiece on fire! Broilers are no joke, so be careful.
  15. Remove from the broiler and garnish with fresh basil. Serve with pasta and sauce. If I'm plating each serving, I like to put the pasta on the plate first, then top with sauce, then place the chicken on top. Then pass the remaining sauce at the table in case people want more.

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