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Recipes: Italian Chicken Parmesan
Homemade... and Easy!

As you're searching various books for recipes, Italian chicken parmesan will --if you're anything like me-- pop out at you as one of the most mouth-watering dishes ever conceived.

But unfortunately, a lot of home-cooks think learning how to cook chicken parmesan is too complicated... and so they're intimidated about making this rather easy dish at home. If you've never made chicken parmesan, you'll be surprised how easy it is to make a restaurant-quality version in your own kitchen.

You might also want to check here for more typical recipes for an Italian menu!

What is Chicken Parm?

In most recipes, Italian chicken parmesan describes a dish that traditionally originated in Southern Italy. This dish includes tomato sauce, chicken, and cheese. The word parmigiana tells us the recipe came from the Italian city of Parma. Now here's the interesting twist... Parma is in North Italy, not South! So both regions often try to lay claim to discovering how to cook chicken parmesan.

But what really gives chicken parmesan its signature is the cheese-- it always includes Parmesan cheese as one of the key flavors. What's funny, however, is that its description as "parmigiana" has nothing to do with cheese! It has to do with the way other types of parmesan dishes were prepared with a layering effect.

Traditional Recipes: Italian Chicken Parmesan

Traditional Recipe for an Easy Italian Chicken parmesan
With that history lesson to guide us, let's look at how to cook chicken parmesan... and also how to change up any recipe for different tastes and taste buds.

This basic version is one of my favorite recipes for Italian chicken parmesan. It's easy to make, tastes totally fabulous, and is always impressive. In Italy, they would use a virgin olive oil for frying, but if that's too pricey for you, go ahead and use whatever kind of oil you've got.

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1/2 C. cooking oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, flattened to 1/4"
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 C. Italian style dry bread crumbs
3/4 C. freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, separated
2 C. prepared homemade marinara sauce
1 C. mozzarella cheese, grated

Instructions: 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the cooking oil to medium-high heat in a large frying pan.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and the garlic. Rub this mixture into your flattened chicken pieces and, if you have time, cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least 2-3 hours. Even if you don't have time to marinate, don't skip this step-- it really infuses the chicken with flavor.

3. Take the beaten egg and add the salt and pepper. On a plate, mix together the bread crumbs and 1/2 C. of the parmesan cheese.

4. Take each piece of chicken and dip it into the beaten egg, then cover it with the bread crumbs.

5. The chicken should move directly into the heated oil. Once both sides are a golden brown, remove and drain on paper towels.

6. Transfer the cooked chicken to a lightly greased baking dish.

7. Pour your sauce over the chicken and bake at 350 degrees for about a half hour.

8. Finally top with mozzarella and cook for 10 more minutes to melt the cheese. Sprinkle each serving with the remaining 1/4 of parmesan right before serving.

Note: This recipe for Italian chicken parmesan is intended to be the main dish for two people, but if there were other components you could make it serve four by halving the portions and adding side dishes. Pasta is always ideal!

Alternate Recipes for Italian Chicken Parmesan

Chicken is such a lovely meat to use for these sorts of traditional Italian recipes. Italian chicken parmesan is so good because the meat turns really sumptuous and tender when prepared this way. But when learning how to cook chicken parmesan, you've got to remember... there are lots of different versions of "parmesan" type dishes... and not all of them use chicken!

So how do you personalize or change a recipe for Italian chicken parmesan so they keep people guessing? There are lots of things you can do to change up this great dish!

1. Baked Italian Chicken Parmesan. The recipe for traditional chicken parm above is pan fried, but you can make it healthier by baking the chicken. To do this, spray the chicken lightly in oil and bake it on oiled baking sheets at 400 degrees (flipping once), for about 15 minutes, til crispy.

2. Make a Vegetarian Version. You don't always have to use chicken! For any vegetarians, how about tofu? Or eggplant? Or zucchini? Or thin slices of a large mushroom, like portobello?

3. Lasagne-Ize It! Using a standard chicken parmesan or an eggplant version, layer your breaded chicken pieces with traditional lasagna (recipe coming soon!) ingredients (but without the pasta). The final result? The most amazing and decadent casserole you've ever had.

4. Change up The Sauce. Like the idea of a traditional recipe for Italian chicken parmesan, but want to use your favorite Italian sauce? Try it with a Puttanesca style sauce, an alfredo sauce, a pink Vodka sauce, a primavera sauce, or whatever you like!

5. Switch your Starch. Use rice instead of pasta! Rice is like chicken in the way it absorbs flavors – so if you've had pasta already this week – try rice or rice pilaf!

6. Change up the Flavors. You could also change up this recipe for Italian chicken parmesan by offering a regional variation. For example, how about a Buffalo Chicken Parmesan that adds hot sauce and a side of carrots with blue cheese? Or a Greek version with lemon, parsley, and feta cheese?

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