Chicken (or Veal) Parmigiana

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Every time I make chicken or veal parmigiana, I am transplanted back in time to the late 50s and 60s.  Next to pizza and spaghetti and meatballs, this was indeed the most famous Italian dish.  It was Italian home cooking at it’s finest, and I loved it!  However, whenever I ordered this dish at a restaurant, even as a child, I was always disappointed.  Why? The sauce!  The sauce is the absolute key to this dish.  So before I go any further, I will direct you to my recipe for marinara sauce, as I find this best for this dish.  I think that meat sauce would just be too heavy.  And of course, this is how my mother made it, so this is how I make it.  It was always veal when I was growing up.  Veal was so much cheaper then, so a family could afford to make this in large quantities.  But, honestly, chicken is just as good.  However, in my family, this dish was always reserved for a special occasion, such as a birthday.   It wasn’t our typical weekday meal.  But we did have the fried cutlets often.  That is a bit of a recipe bonus here.  These cutlets, once fried, are scrumptious just baked and served with lemon wedges.  Of course, that’s not parmigiana, but it certainly is delicious, and convenient if you don’t already have the sauce made.  We did have veal cutlets served this way on a regular basis, but my brother always put ketchup (pseudo gravy) on it, and we all cringed.

As a new bride in 1973, this was one of my top “impress your dinner guests” recipes, and I am still making it for my loved ones.  Everyone smiles when they learn that this is for dinner.  Italian cuisine has evolved so much over the years that you rarely see this on a menu anymore, or there are so many other sophisticated items to choose from.    I think this makes it even more of a delight when it is served at home.

There was never any written recipe for this.  I knew exactly what to do once the cutlets were fried.  But every time I made it, I had to call my mom for the sequence of the batter.  “Flour, eggs, breadcrumbs,” she’d tell me, “and dip one cutlet at a time.”  I finally committed this to memory a few years ago!  I’m going to write it down for you, and now I’ll have it as well.  I hope you enjoy!!

RECIPE:

8 chicken or veal cutlets

2 cups flour

2 cups Italian style breadcrumbs

6 eggs, beaten

olive oil for frying

8 ounces mozzarella

parmigiana grated cheese (just enough to sprinkle on top)

marinara sauce

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Gently beat cutlets with meat mallet to tenderize.

2.  Put flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in 3 separate bowls.  I like to use pie plates for the flour and breadcrumbs.

3.  Heat oil in large, heavy fry pan.

4.  Dip each cutlet (one at a time, and in this order!) in the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.  Make sure to coat each cutlet on both sides , especially with the breadcrumbs.

5.  Place cutlet in the hot oil and brown well on both sides.  You can put more than one cutlet in the oil at a time, but don’t let them touch.

6.  Once browned on both sides, remove from oil and let drain on paper towels.

7.  Lightly oil a pyrex pan or baking dish, and place cutlets in pan.  Put marinara sauce on top, and a little bit around the sides of the pan. Lightly salt and pepper, if desired.  Top with mozzarella slices and some parmigiana cheese.

8.  Cover with aluminum foil, and place in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese has melted and is lightly browned.

*We always serve this with baked rice, oozing in melted mozzarella and a delectable breadcrumb crunch!   I will be posting that recipe in a few days.  Stay tuned!

** If you want to just have delicious breaded cutlets,  do not top with the sauce and cheeses, and just bake in the same manner.  Serve with lemon wedges (not ketchup!), and/or on top of a mixed salad.

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