Mama mia! Chicken Parmesan makes me think of red and white checkered tablecloths and drippy candles. And maybe a little Dean Martin playing in the background. If you love Chicken Parmesan as much as I do, but can’t afford to eat at your favorite Italian restaurant once a week, this recipe may be as special to you as it is to me. Sometimes when I try to make restuarant favorites at home they’re a disappointment, but this recipe makes it easy to turn out results just as good at a fraction of the cost.
The key to a great Chicken Parm is all in the crust on the chicken — and not just because the crust is where the Parmesan cheese gives the dish its flavor. It’s important to start with a chicken breast pounded thin, this allows you to pan-fry the chicken at high heat very quickly. That way the chicken forms a good, crispy golden brown crust. I always remove the chicken from the pan some paper towels for a few moments until I’m ready to top with the sauce and the cheese in a baking dish.
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Parmesan cheese, or Parmigiano-Reggiano, gives this dish its name, and its rich, salty flavor helps create the signature golden crust on the chicken. But this is a 3 Cheese Chicken Parmesan, and fresh mozzarella and provolone also get their moment to shine. The average grocery store may only have sliced provolone available in the cheese section, or in the deli. If that’s the case, it’s easy to just break the slices up into large pieces to fit on the chicken breasts with the mozzarella. Grated or sliced, it tastes the same!
Other cheeses I occasionally use in place of provolone are taleggio or fontina. Both melt excellently and offer different, interesting flavors. It’s really the mix of the three cheeses, the mozzarella, the provolone, and the parmesan that sets this dish apart from other Chicken Parmesan recipes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment a bit to find your own personal favorite three-cheese cobmination!
I buy a jar of my favorite marinara sauce to use for this recipe. While the chicken is in the oven, I put a pot of water on to boil and cook a pound of spaghetti. Then I throw the remaining marinara from the open jar into the pan I used to fry the chicken, and over medium heat, I add the cooked spaghetti for a quick toss once it’s al dente. Serving Chicken Parmesan over pasta is pretty classic in most Italian American restaurants, and thanks to the ready-made pasta sauce it’s easy to add it on to the homemade version as well.