“It’s breaded and panfried, and it’s topped with tomato and mozzarella. Talk about gilding the lily,” Mario Batali says about that comfort food classic, chicken Parm. “It’s a combination of flavors that tastes like childhood, even for those who didn’t eat the dish as a child.”
Chicken Parm can be broken down into key components: the sauce, the breading and the cheese. To help us make the very best version, we consult with chix magnets Batali, Craig Koketsu and Vinny Dotolo.
Keep the sauce simple, stupid. “In this case, it’s just a vehicle,” Batali emphasizes about the tomato sauce, which is really just a supporting player to the stars of breaded chicken and cheese. There should be enough to be present, but not so much that the dish would be described as wet.
“It’s very simple,” Dotolo of Jon & Vinny’s in Los Angeles and Koketsu of Quality Italian in NYC both say verbatim, each choosing a sauce made with only San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, crushed red chile and salt.
We followed their lead, but added one secret ingredient for extra oomph: a Parm rind, which lends an intense cheese flavor to the sauce.
March to your own crumb. Breading and panfrying the chicken is essential. While Batali pulses crustless filone bread for quick fresh bread crumbs, Dotolo uses a blend of panko, Italian bread crumbs and grated Parm, and Koketsu does the same with the addition of dried herbs.
We decided to go somewhere in the middle and used panko bread crumbs mixed with grated Parmesan cheese and dried oregano. The resulting chicken has a light, crisp coating that perfectly catches and soaks up the sauce and cheese.
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