Chicken Parmigiana

Chicken parmigiana (parma for short) is a very popular dish in Australia and is a classic pub dish. It’s basically chicken schnitzel layered with tomato sauce and cheese. Often there is ham involved. Some people are of the opinion that it isn’t a parma if there is no ham but it really is just personal choice.
This is my mum’s recipe. She showed me how to make it once several months ago and this is the first time that I’ve tried it. There is no ham. You can add it if you want. You could also use bottled pasta sauce and store-bought schnitzels if you wanted (but what would be the point?). I have nothing against bottled sauce and am happy to use it (I do have something against store-bought schnitzels. They’re awful). But I think some meals, like parma, are best made from scratch. It is worth it.

The yum is strong with this one

This recipe makes about 6 serves, but it does depend on how much meat you want to eat and how much sides you have. I think it took me 1 1/2 hours to make so you might prefer to save it for the weekend when you have time and (hopefully) not worn out.

Schnitzel
3 chicken breasts
Flour (and seasonings if you like)
2 eggs (if not quite enough to top up with milk)
Breadcrumbs
Lots of butter

Tomato Sauce
1 onion
1 red capsicum
1 clove garlic
1 tbs oil
200g can crushed tomatoes
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs dried parsley
1 ts dried basil
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1tsp chicken stock powder
And lots and lots of cheese for the layering. Mozzarella is the classic cheese but I like chaddar/tasty.

Start with making the sauce. Peel and chop the onion and deseed and chop the capsicum. Heat the oil in a pot and add the onion, capsicum, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes and paste, herbs, sugar, water, and stock. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. I tried 30 minutes (which I had written in my notes) but it was thicker than I wanted (and made less quantity). So next time I’m going to try 20 minutes and decide from there.

Make the schnitzels while the sauce is cooking. Cut the chicken into thin bits and pound it to make it thinner (but even). this is important. It makes the meat nice and tender. If you try to cook big bits (like my ex-housemate) then you end up with horrid burnt crumbs and a raw middle. Once that’s done, coat the meat with flour (and seasonings mixed in), then the egg (make sure the meat is coated but the excess egg has been removed or you will run out), then the breadcrumbs.

Preheat the oven to 180C (~355F). Melt a lot of butter in a fry pan. It is important to use a lot of butter. Yes, I know this is unhealthy. I was horrified when I first saw the amount of butter mum used. But it is really important for the flavour. Cook the chicken in batches until golden on both sides. Put the cooked meat to the side with layers of paper towels to soak up excess butter. Keep topping up the butter as you cook. You might need to use a paper towel to remove burnt breadcrumbs from the fry pan. Each batch will cook faster than the previous batch.

Grab a big oven-friendly dish. Layer chicken, cheese, sauce etc. Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Then use this time to prepare your sides and/or clean up your mess. If you’re like me then it is a very big mess šŸ˜‰

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