It’s the one of the first things I remember making for friends in college, on a camping stove on the floor of my dorm with a loaf of bread and salad from a bag on the side. As 18-year-olds on a steady diet of grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken cutlets were truly something special.
And here’s something I don’t think I’ve revealed here before: chicken parm, the beautiful evolution of chicken cutlets, is my favorite food. Yup, I live in the restaurant utopia of New York City, I’ve traveled all over France and Italy—heck I’ve even eaten at Cyrus—but there’s nothing that brings me as much giddy, satisfied pleasure as a chicken parm on a crusty roll.
Chicken parm is a purely Italian-American invention. I recall a group of students in my Italian class in Florence conspiring over their plans to make chicken parm that evening. Our Tuscan teacher overhead them and asked, “Che cosa cheek-en parma?” One of the students, wide-eyed and salivating, began describing it while the professora‘s face scrunched up in disgust. She repeated it back to him in English, describing something like a roast chicken covered in parmigiano reggiano.
Soon all the American students were chiming in trying to better explain chicken parm and how delicious it could be. Unconvinced, she said, “Maybe in Sicily,” with a dismissive hand wave.
I was elated when I found out that the wunderkinds who run Torrisi Italian Specialties are opening a second space next to their very popular restaurant—the new one to be named simply Parm. They are expanding on their menu of Italian-American classics cooked with high-falutin’ culinary school techniques. Nonetheless, the chefs are partial to Progresso breadcrumbs for their chicken cutlets!
Given that parm is my favorite, a good recipe for the cutlets themselves is something I’ve been perfecting for years. After that, you just need good red sauce and some shredded mozzarella.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Makes 6 servings
- 1 cup breadcrumbs, preferably homemade, but if not, plain breadcrumbs in a canister will do
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1 pound boneless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Stir the breadcrumbs, cheese, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper together in a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs well with a fork.
With a fork or tongs, dredge the chicken in the beaten egg, then transfer to the breadcrumb bowl to coat evenly.
In a heavy skillet or frying pan over very low heat, cook the garlic until golden. Raise the heat to medium and add the breaded cutlets—don’t crowd the pan, fry in batches if needed. Cook approximately 4 minutes per side, turning when the cutlets are crispy and golden brown.
Drain on a paper towel-lined plate before serving.