Chicken parmesan is breaded chicken with an Italian-American twist: there is Parmesan cheese either in the breading and/or sprinkled on top. The chicken is typically covered in tomato sauce and more melted cheese, but as with many other dishes, there are variations. Making breaded chicken is not difficult, but it can be messy. Here are some tips to make the preparation easier.
For the simplest chicken parmesan, the ingredients are chicken breasts, beaten egg, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese. For more even cooking, pound the chicken breasts thin beforehand. I usually skip this step out of sheer laziness. If you are worried about the chicken cooking through, another option is slicing each chicken breast in half horizontally. In breading, egg is used to glue the breadcrumbs to the meat. The chicken is first dipped in the egg, then coated in breadcrumbs. Covering the chicken breasts in flour first, before the egg, makes for a crisper coating, but I sometimes skip this step if I don’t have flour on hand.
The Breading Stations
When the chicken is dipped in another ingredient, that ingredient should be contained in a dish. Each of these ingredients (flour, eggs, breadcrumbs) should be in a separate, shallow dish. Something like a pie pan is ideal, but you can put the beaten eggs in a bowl and the breadcrumbs on a plate. Sometimes the place where the chicken is dipped in another ingredient is referred to as a breading station. If using flour, you would have three breading stations. To make things easier, you can set up the breading stations in the order that they would be used: first flour, then egg, breadcrumbs last.
Sanitation & Cleanliness
To keep hands clean, you may choose to wear plastic gloves. Or you can designate one hand for the wet ingredients and the other for the dry ingredients. One hand will dip the chicken in the egg and the other will dip it in the breadcrumbs. If you are also using flour, dip the chicken in the flour with one hand, use the other hand to dip into the egg, then switch back to the original hand to dip into the breadcrumbs. One hand stays dry; the other is for the egg step. Otherwise, your hands may end up coated in clumps. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly with soap after handling raw chicken.
Last Words on Ingredients
You can make your own breadcrumbs or get them from the store. Storebought breadcrumbs may come already seasoned, or you can buy the plain kind and season them yourself. Like the breadcrumbs, the tomato sauce may be homemade or storebought. The extra cheese on top may be sliced or shredded. Something grated would melt more easily, but I prefer a nice thick slice of mozzarella on top.