The key to the best chicken Parm is nailing all the important ratios: too little sauce and dish will be dry; too much cheese and it's a gooey mess. Make sure you pound the chicken thin and shallow fry it in good olive oil, then bake the fried chicken cutlets with the sauce, which allows the breading to absorb the flavors of the tomatoes. The cutlets are simple to prepare and freeze well for up to two months, making them an ideal candidate for meal prep. This is a super easy and delicious utility sauce and only has five ingredients plus salt — can use as a dip for calamari, for lasagna or for this chicken Parm.
Technique tip: It's worth learning to butterfly a chicken breast, but if you're not comfortable with a knife, you can ask a butcher to prepare and pound them for you. The breading technique works equally well with pork, veal, lamb and even flounder. The trick is to slowly confit the garlic in the oil before adding the tomatoes. This step will add a few extra minutes, but the sauce will always be scented with raw garlic otherwise.
For the 40-Minute Red Sauce:1.
In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, slowly heat the garlic and oil over medium-low heat. Cook slowly, being very careful not to brown the garlic, until the smashed cloves are soft and pungent, about 8 minutes. You should watch the garlic for the entire duration, as it can burn quickly. Toss the pepper flakes at the very end.2.
Add the tomatoes and 2 teaspoons salt, raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, sitting frequently and mashing the tomatoes to break them up as they cook, until 1/4 of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce begins to thicken, the color darkens and the oil begins to float and separate, about 30 minutes.3.
Stir in the basil and adjust the seasoning with salt, as needed. Use immediately or let cool and then store until needed. The sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
For the Classic Chicken Cutlets:1.
Butterfly each breast, slicing horizontally through the breast and stopping short to leave the opposite side intact. Open one breast up flat, place on a lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper, top with a second sheet of oiled parchment, oiled side down, and pound with the flat side of a meat mallet until uniformly thin. Repeat with the second breast. Cut each pounded breast into two evenly sized pieces (your cutlets) and season each cutlet with a pinch of salt.2.
Prepare a breading station. Set out three shallow bowls. Pour the flour into the first. Crack the eggs into the second, add a few tablespoons water and give them a whisk. Spread the breadcrumbs out in the third. Working in stages, and with one piece at a time, dip the chicken into the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Make sure to coat the breast completely at each stage, pressing down firmly, and shaking off the excess before moving onto the next coating. As the cutlets are coated, set them aside, not touching, on a large plate.3.
To cook the cutlets, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is just beginning to smoke, gently lower 2mcutlets into the pan and cook until golden-brown on the first side, about 3 minutes. Then flip the cutlets and continue cooking until crispy golden-brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes. You can hold the cooked cutlets on a sheet pan lined with paper towels in a low oven. Repeat the process with the remaining cutlets and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
For the chicken Parmesan:1.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.2.
Place the chicken cutlets in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Cover them with the tomato sauce, then arrange the mozzarella slices over them, covering them entirely.3.
Bake until the sauce is bubbling hot and the cheese begins to brown, about 20 minutes.4.
Let rest for 10 minutes, then scatter the Parmesan over the top before serving.