Chicken Parmigiana Recipe for a Classic Chicken Parma (2024)

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This chicken parmigiana recipe makes a delicious chicken parma in the Italian Australian style that appeared in the 1950s and became a popular mid-week pub counter meal special in the 1980s. Our homemade chicken parmy recipe makes succulent chicken breast fillets with a crunchy breadcrumb coating, topped with a rich tomato sauce and melted parmesan cheese and mozzarella.

If you made our chicken schnitzel recipe and my rich Italian tomato sauce recipe and enjoyed those then you’re going to love this endearingly old-fashioned chicken parmigiana recipe. One of our best chicken cutlet recipes, it makes a home-cooked chicken parma in the Italian Australian style of the parmies popularised in pub bistros in Australia in the 1980s.

My chicken parmigiana recipe will make you an extra delicious home-cooked take on the Australian chicken parma served as a mid-week pub counter meal special – that often left a lot to be desired, frankly. While we fondly recall some fantastic pub chicken parmas with crunchy coatings, moist chicken and melted cheese, there were also plenty of soggy parmas with insipid sauces and mounds of grated vegetables masquerading as ‘salad’.

Indeed, it’s the sides, a good fresh garden salad and hand-cut potato fries that distinguish an Italian Australian chicken parmigiana from its cousins in the USA, which are typically served with spaghetti or another pasta. Another differentiation is that many chicken parmigiana recipes don’t include the Parma ham or Parmigiano cheese that give the dish its name.

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Chicken Parmigiana Recipe for a Classic Chicken Parma in the Italian Australian Style

Growing up in Sydney in the 1970s, as a little kid I regularly helped my mum in the kitchen with the dredging, dipping and crumbing of the dishes of the day – chicken Kiev, Russian kotleti (chicken cutlets) and Wiener schnitzels (veal rather than chicken schnitzels, which originated in Vienna, Austria) – but, curiously, despite a chicken parmigiana recipe having been published in Australia in the 1950s, we didn’t make chicken parmas at home.

In Australia, chicken parmigiana was initially served in charmingly old-fashioned Italian restaurants started by Italian immigrants who arrived post-World War II – long before chicken parmas became a popular pub bistro counter meal, alongside beer-battered fish and chips, steak and chips, and Sunday roasts.

A mid-week counter meal special, particularly on quieter nights, the chicken parmigiana was promoted on blackboards and signage outside pubs as a ‘pot and parma’ deal, for a cold beer and chicken parmigiana with chips (potato fries) and salad on the side, for as little as $7. No wonder nobody made parmas at home!

Chicken Parmigiana Recipe for a Classic Chicken Parma (1)

Whether served up in Australian pubs or cooked in American homes, there’s no denying that chicken parmigiana has a special place in the hearts and stomachs of lovers of the food of the Italian diaspora, which we all embraced and made our own, and who could blame us?!

Look hard enough and you’ll find chicken parmigiana everywhere from Australia to Argentina and Spain – where it’s typically called pollo a la parmesana and tends to swim in an orange-red tomato sauce with a light sprinkling of parmesan cheese – to Japan, where a Japanese katsu (cutlet) style chicken Parmesan is made with mirin, the tomato sauce includes soy sauce, and it’s eaten with rice.

Which is fine. Food evolves. It doesn’t stay the same. Sure, breaded meats that are fried have existed since Roman times, and can be found all over Europe and Asia, as well as ‘New’ World regions such as Australasia and North America, but I assure you they have not remained exactly the same over the centuries. I’ll be trying the Japanese version next.

Chicken Parmigiana Recipe for a Classic Chicken Parma (2)

Tips for Making our Chicken Parmigiana Recipe for a Classic Chicken Parma

As usual, I only have a few tips to making this chicken parmigiana recipe, because despite the detail below it’s actually a relatively straightforward dish to make.

Just like when you make chicken schnitzels, getting organised will make your life so much easier, especially if you’re using your fingers as I like to do, which will quickly get sticky with dough.

Line up a flat plate, two bowls large enough to hold a chicken breast fillet, and a fourth plate for the breaded chicken breast fillets: pour the flour onto the first plate; whisk the egg and milk in the second bowl; and combine the breadcrumbs, half a teaspoon of sea salt, Pecorino, finely chopped celery leaves and lemon zest in the third dish.

And I have an extra tip: a finger bowl of clean water and a hand towel at the end of the line will come in very handy. Do that and you’ll thank me later.

I haven’t incorporated myrich Italian tomato sauce recipe (<- link here) into the chicken parmigiana recipe below, as not everybody wants to spend an additional thirty minutes making a tomato sauce. Although if you do, I guarantee you will not be disappointed. It’s so delicious and has myriad uses.

If you don’t have time, you could use a plain Italian-style tomato sauce intended for pastas, or even a store-bought bottled passata, or a combination of a can of crushed tomatoes and a tablespoon of tomato paste which you can quickly combine and heat in a pan on the stove. It won’t be as rich and flavourful as my tomato sauce, but it will be just fine if you’re in a hurry and serving this as a quick and easy mid-week meal.

Serve with lemon wedges and an easy fresh garden salad. I like to make an easy salad of rucola leaves and cherry tomatoes, dressed in this easy classic vinaigrette. You could also try my classic Russian garden salad or this fragrant herb salad.

A pub-style Australian chicken parma is typically served with a side of potato fries. If we’re going to do some fries, we prefer these extra crispy shoestring fries (matchstick fries) or for a real Aussie pub style meal, these spicy potato wedges.

Chicken Parmigiana Recipe for a Classic Chicken Parma

Chicken Parmigiana Recipe for a Classic Chicken Parma (3)

Chicken Parmigiana Recipe for a Classic Chicken Parma in the Italian Australian Style

AuthorChicken Parmigiana Recipe for a Classic Chicken Parma (4)Lara Dunston

Our chicken parmigiana recipe makes a classic chicken parma in the Italian Australian style that became a popular mid-week pub counter meal special in the 1980s. In our homemade take on the parmy, succulent chicken breast fillets with a crunchy breadcrumb coating are topped with a rich tomato sauce and melted parmesan cheese and mozzarella, and served with lemon wedges and a side salad. You might never order it at a pub again!

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Prep Time 15 minutes mins

Cook Time 15 minutes mins

Chilling Time 30 minutes mins

Total Time 1 hour hr

Course Main Course

Cuisine Australian, Italian, Italian-Australian

Servings made with recipeServings 2

Calories 2086 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 300 g chicken breast fillets - halved
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 egg - whisked
  • 60 g milk
  • 80 g Panko breadcrumbs
  • 30 g Pecorino cheese - finely grated
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 5 g celery leaves - finely chopped
  • ½ lemon - finely grated zest only
  • 1 cup olive oil for shallow frying
  • 200 g smoked ham - wafer-thin slices
  • 400 g tomato pasta sauce
  • 80 g Parmigiano Reggiano / parmesan cheese - grated
  • 200 g mozzarella - grated
  • 10 g fresh basil and flat leaf parsley - finely chopped and combined
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper – to taste
  • ½ lemon - cut into quarters for serving

Instructions

  • Wrap the chicken breasts in cling wrap and use a kitchen mallet to beat each of the chicken breasts into an even flat-ish fillet with a thickness of 1-2cm.

  • Line up a flat plate, two bowls large enough to hold a chicken breast fillet, and a fourth plate for the breaded chicken breast fillets: pour the flour onto the first plate; whisk the egg and milk in the second bowl; and combine the breadcrumbs, half a teaspoon of sea salt, Pecorino parmesan, finely chopped celery leaves and lemon zest in the third dish.

  • Press a chicken fillet into the flour, one side then the other, so that it’s completely covered in flour; dip the flour-dusted fillet into the milky-egg wash; press the fillet onto the breadcrumb mix, one side then the other, ensuring it’s completely covered in crumbs; then move the fillet to the empty plate, and repeat with the other fillets.

  • Refrigerate the chicken breast fillets for 30 minutes and, if you don’t have a favourite tomato pasta sauce to hand, you could make our rich tomato sauce recipe in 30 minutes. (link above).

  • Pre-heat your oven grill/broiler to high and line a large rimmed oven tray with baking paper, as you’ll be taking the shallow-fried chicken fillets direct from the fry pan/skillet to the grill/broiler.

  • In a fry pan or skillet just large enough to hold two chicken breast fillets, heat 1cm of olive oil until hot, then shallow-fry the first two fillets for around 4-5 minutes a side (no more) until golden-brown. Transfer to a rack to drain off any excess oil and repeat with the next fillets.

  • Space your chicken fillets evenly apart on the baking tray. If using ham, lay wafer-thin slices on top of the fillets. Use a tablespoon to spread on generous scoops of our rich tomato pasta sauce so the fillets are smothered in the stuff.

  • Sprinkle on the grated Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan cheese), a little of the mix of finely chopped fresh basil and flat leaf parsley, and the grated mozzarella so that the cheeses completely cover the sauce, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle on some sea salt.

  • Slide the tray onto the top shelf close to the oven grill/broiler and don’t go away: grill for 5 minutes or so, just until the cheese has melted, then remove and serve immediately.

  • Sprinkle more of the mix of fresh basil leaves and flat leaf parsley onto the chicken parmas, grind some fresh cracked black pepper on top, and serve with lemon wedges, and a simple side salad – or potato fries for the true pub experience.

Nutrition

Calories: 2086kcalCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 104gFat: 160gSaturated Fat: 41gPolyunsaturated Fat: 15gMonounsaturated Fat: 95gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 352mgSodium: 5289mgPotassium: 1813mgFiber: 7gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 2416IUVitamin C: 45mgCalcium: 1334mgIron: 9mg

Please do let us know if you make this chicken parmigiana recipe for our classic Italian-Australian chicken parma, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.

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Chicken Parmigiana Recipe for a Classic Chicken Parma (2024)

FAQs

What's the difference between chicken parmesan and chicken parmigiana? ›

Brace yourself for this one—they're the same dish! Chicken Parmesan and chicken Parmigiana are just different names for the same exact recipe. And, with a name like “chicken Parmigiana”, you might assume that this recipe is Italian. While it has roots in Italy (in a way), chicken Parmesan is all-American.

Why is a parma called a parma? ›

While it's easy to assume that “parmigiana” is just an Italian way of saying parmesan, it technically means “someone or something from the city of Parma.” Parma is where we get parmesan cheese, and dishes done in the Parma style have the name attached.

What is the original parmigiana? ›

The ancestor of the modern dish appears in Vincenzo Corrado's cookbook Il cuoco galante from 1786. His recipe described eggplant seasoned with butter, herbs, cinnamon, other spices and grated Parmesan cheese, which was then covered with a cream sauce of egg yolks before being baked in an oven.

How do you thicken parmigiana sauce? ›

Cornstarch: Make a slurry of half water, half cornstarch and whisk until smooth. Cornstarch is a powerful thickener, so start by whisking in no more than 1 tablespoon of the mixture per 2 cups of simmering sauce; stir and simmer for 2 minutes, check the thickness, and repeat with more slurry as needed.

Why is mozzarella used for chicken parm? ›

Jokes aside, chicken parm has a long, complicated history argued by many historians for different reasons. Believe it or not, there was not readily accessible chicken in Parma, Italy, so the idea started with thin slices of eggplant covered in Neapolitan tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Is eggplant parm better for you than chicken parm? ›

Which One is for You? Eggplant parmesan tends to be lighter on the stomach and is considered to be more healthy. Eggplant is also less expensive. Restaurants find that it is a much cheaper option for guests.

Do Italians eat chicken parmesan? ›

Despite being a staple of Italian-American cuisine, “chicken parmesan” is nowhere to be found in Italy. Instead, Italians nosh on parmigiana – eggplant layered with tomato sauce and cheese.

Is a chicken parmigiana healthy to eat? ›

Nutrition details - Chicken Parmigiana

This traditional Italian dish is surprisingly low in calories and packed with fibre and lean protein. Not only is this meal low in sodium it is also a heart friendly dish packed full of vitamins and minerals.

Should a Parma have ham? ›

More than likely it will come stacked with delicious ham. That's the way it should always be: chicken, napoli sauce, ham, cheese – the holy quadruple. A parma without ham is like a meat pie without tomato sauce or ice cream sans sprinkles. You can eat it but it sure as hell won't be as good.

Is chicken Parma Italian or Australian? ›

The dish, also known as "chicken parm", originated in the northeast United States from Italian immigrants, and became a popular staple in restaurants serving Italian-American cuisine by the 1950s. Home versions also grew in popularity.

Why does the breading fall off my chicken parm? ›

After the chicken pieces are thoroughly coated in the breading mixture, place them in the hot oil—with plenty of space in between—and let them be! The more you touch the chicken with tongs, the more likely the breading is to fall off. If the cutlets are touching each other, the more likely the breading is to come off.

Why is my chicken parm not crispy? ›

To maximize crispiness, I use panko breadcrumbs and fry the chicken in a little more oil (about an inch) than you might normally use when making parm. As soon as the cutlets are nicely browned and cooked all the way though, drain them on a rack or paper towels. They're crunchy; this will help them stay that way.

Why is my chicken parm rubbery? ›

Leaving chicken in a pan, oven, or grill for just a little too long can suck the moisture right out and leave you with a dry, rubbery bird. Without moisture, the protein fibers in the chicken become elastic. The types of chicken you buy at the store can also make a difference.

What is parmesan sauce made of? ›

Garlic parmesan sauce is made from butter, heavy cream, garlic, flour, herbs, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. All of the ingredients are combined and heated to make a creamy dipping sauce or spread.

Is parmigiana the same as parmesan? ›

For a cheese to be classified as Parmigiano-Reggiano, it must come from particular regions of Italy and contain only certain approved ingredients. Parmigiano-Reggiano is also aged at least one year and up to three years. Parmesan, on the other hand, is not regulated, and may be aged as little as 10 months.

What does parmigiana mean in Italian? ›

The dish is claimed by both Campania and Sicily. While "parmigiana" means "from Parma" (in Northern Italy), the dish is not part of Parma food. It is based on melanzane alla parmigiana (alt. parmigiana di melanzane) or eggplant parmigiana (or eggplant Parmesan), a classic Southern Italian dish.

What is parmesan made out of? ›

Parmesan cheese is traditionally made from cow's milk and is aged at least 12 months. Whole milk and naturally skimmed milk are combined and then distributed into copper vats for heating. During the two-step heating process, additional ingredients like whey and rennet are added to form the curd.

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